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In Pune, a major hurdle has been cleared for construction of a 2.3-km road along the Mutha river bed from Vitthalwadi to the Katraj-Dehu Road bypass on National Highway-4. The National Green Tribunal on July 11 gave conditional approval to the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) to construct the road along the river. The tribunal said the conditions would bring about a balance between development and environment.
The tribunal insisted that the PMC realign the road, away from the river bed. Wherever the road construction is in the river bed, within the blue flood line, the civic body must construct it on elevated pillars. It must demolish illegal constructions in the river bed and ensure that no illegal structures or encroachments come up. Imposition of the conditions is necessary in the interest of environment and ecology.
It is better to take precautions at this stage, even at the cost of additional expenses rather than to face floods, disaster, loss of person and property and irreversible damages to ecology and environment, the tribunal said. The tribunal completed its hearing on an application filed by a group of citizens including Sarang Yadwadkar, Vivek Velankar, Parineeta Dandekar, Dilip Mohite, Sanjay Bhosale, and Narendra Chugh.
The applicants, earlier this year, had challenged the project wherein a 24-meter wide road is being constructed from Vitthalwadi temple to join the Katraj Dehu Road bypass.
The citizens' group had said that no permission had been taken from the irrigation department, the Archaelogical Surey Of India, and that it would cause massive environmental and ecological damage as the road is being constructed in the river bed. Permission from the ASI was necessary as the road abuts the Vitthalwadi temple, which is Grade I heritage building, the citizens said.
The civic body justified the road saying that it is in larger public interest. The new road, it said, would reduce travel time. Nearly 40 per cent of the road had been completed till mid-January, this year. The construction work stopped following orders from the tribunal.