Pune’s G20 Showpiece: River Beautification Project Stirs Controversy Amid Environmental Concerns

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Pune, 31st May 2023: The controversial Mula-Mutha riverfront development project has completed a 300-meter phase at Bundgarden, raising concerns among environmentalists and sparking further controversy. The beautification works, including footpaths and ghats, were expedited ahead of the upcoming G-20 conference scheduled for June.

The Pune municipal corporation (PMC) intends to showcase these developments to foreign delegates attending the conference. However, the extensive objections surrounding the project have the potential to reignite controversy. Critics argue that the scheme, which involved significant construction along the riverbank, could reduce the river’s carrying capacity and increase the risk of flooding. As a precautionary measure, the municipal administration has advised the contractor to remove all materials by the first week of June to ensure the smooth flow of the river.

The project initiated the beautification of the Sangamwadi to Bundgarden (Yerwada) riverbank in December 2022. The project includes the creation of cycle paths along the riverbanks and the transformation of Naik Island. Currently, works at Koregaon Park and Dhobi Ghat on Boat Club Road have been completed.

The municipal administration has allocated a budget of four and a half thousand crore rupees for the project. However, environmentalists in the city have raised concerns about the decrease in the river’s carrying capacity and the potential for flooding due to extensive construction along the riverbank. These objections have surrounded the project from its inception, and it is feared that the ongoing works will disrupt the river’s natural flow. In response, the municipal administration has instructed the contractor to remove all materials from the area by early June to maintain the river’s smooth flow.

The beautification efforts from Sangamwadi to Bundgarden (Yerwada), including the creation of riverside cycle paths and the revitalization of Naik Island near Sangam, have been completed. Embankments have been constructed at Koregaon Park, Dhobi Ghat, and Boat Club Road, with gravel laying also finished. However, more than six thousand trees are expected to be cut down along the riverside for the scheme, drawing the ire of tree lovers and environmentalists. Numerous objections have been submitted to the Municipal Corporation, calling for a halt to the project.

Although a hearing has taken place regarding the objections, the report has not yet been submitted to the Maharashtra state government. Under the scheme, 80 percent of the work will involve concreting, further adding to the concerns raised by critics.


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