Pune: PCMC’s Punawale Garbage Depot Project Halted, Minister Uday Samant Announces In Maharashtra Assembly

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Varad Bhatkhande

Nagpur, 18th December 2023: The proposed Solid Waste Management (SWM) project of Pimpri Chinchwad Municipal Corporation (PCMC) in Punawale has been officially cancelled, marking a big win for the Punawale Residents, Pimpri Chinchwad Housing Society Federation, and the collective efforts of various individuals who vehemently opposed the project.

The announcement came today during the winter session of the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly, where Minister Uday Samant declared the cancellation of the SWM garbage depot. This decision was met with jubilation from Punawale residents, activists, and political leaders who had been actively involved in the campaign against the project.

Minister Samant addressed the assembly, stating, “Punawale was included in PCMC in 1998. The population has significantly increased since then. The administration aimed to provide SWM facilities to all residents of PCMC, but considering the concerns of the people and the increased urbanization in Punawale, the SWM project is now cancelled. We will explore alternative options.”

This victory is attributed to the relentless efforts of the Pimpri Chinchwad Housing Society Federation, Punawale Residents, MLA Ashwini Laxman Jagtap, Navnath Dhawale, Rahul Kate, Tushar Kamthe, Sagar Lendwe, and all the participants who actively voiced their dissent against the proposed SWM project.

Efforts to halt the SWM project began with the PCMC’s plans to acquire 23 hectares of land for the garbage depot in Punawale. Simultaneously, the Forest Department was set to acquire 23 hectares near Tadoba-Andhari Tiger Reserve in Chandrapur as part of an exchange. Municipal Commissioner Shekhar Singh had confirmed the PCMC’s intention to complete the acquisition by the end of December.

Protests against the project took various forms, including a ‘Silent’ Bell Ringing Protest and a bike rally with a chipko movement. The residents were concerned about health risks, environmental impact, and the proximity of the proposed SWM site to residential areas.

MLA Ashwini Jagtap, who had consistently raised alarms over health risks during the legislative assembly sessions, expressed relief at the cancellation of the project. She emphasized concerns about foul odour affecting nearby areas such as Wakad, Tathawade, Marunji, and Hinjawadi.

Political leaders, including Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar, MP Shrirang Barne, MLA Mahesh Landge, and various corporators, had assured Punawale residents of their support in the fight against the SWM project.

The Pimpri Chinchwad Housing Society Federation extended gratitude to Minister Samant and Chief Minister Eknath Shinde for their role in resolving the issue.

“This issue had been prolonged since the year 2008, and suddenly, work on this project was initiated in 2023 by the PCMC administration. The population of Punawale has grown during these 15 years, reaching close to 150,000. Consequently, Punawale residents took to the streets against this project, organizing various forms of protests. Punawale residents then approached PCCHSF and all political parties, urging the cancellation of this SWM project.

PCCHSF decided to take a legal route and filed a PIL with further guidance from Advocate Satya Muley. He then issued a legal notice to PCMC against this, and a response was awaited from PCMC.

Responding to the demand from PCCHSF and Punawale residents, Chinchwad MLA put forth a cancellation request to the CM of Maharashtra. Minister Samant responded positively and canceled the Punawale SWM project. The announcement was live telecasted on the Maharashtra Vidhansabha Youtube channel,” said Sachin Londhe, Vice Chairman, Pimpri Chinchwad Cooperative Housing Societies Federation.