Clean and green

Print edition : December 18, 2009

RAJLAXMI BHONSALE: "NEARLY Rs. 100 crore has been spent on dredging the river beds."-BY SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

THREE-TIME corporator and currently Mayor, Rajlaxmi Bhonsale has played a pivotal role in preparing Punes City Development Plan as per JNNURM guidelines. She monitors the implementation of the sanctioned projects, with a special interest in developing the Mula-Mutha river system, which runs through the heart of the city, into a navigable waterway.

What are your plans for the Mula-Mutha river system?

Beautiful cities like Paris, London and Amsterdam have rivers running through them. My dream is to develop Pune, through which the Mutha and the Mula-Mutha rivers run, like those cities. This will involve both beautification and commercial utilisation of the land along the banks and using the 46-km-stretch from Khadakvasala to Loni for transportation.

How do you propose to go about doing this?

The work of cleaning up the river system has already begun as part of the JNNURM scheme. Nearly Rs.100 crore has been spent on dredging the river beds, channelling the water and building a retaining wall along the river banks.

For cleaning the water, four sewage treatment plants [STPs] and pumping stations have been constructed, and work on the fifth STP is under way. The total cost is Rs.86 crore. Pune generates around 567 MLD sewage every day, of which 382 MLD, or roughly 70 per cent, is treated.

Obviously, we are targeting 100 per cent sewage treatment, and a requisition for Rs.232 crore is pending with the Government of India. Also, to keep the water, which flows down owing to gravity, at a navigable depth, four bunds will have to be constructed.

What kind of finances does this envisage?

Around Rs.1,000 crore. And I dont expect generating finance to be a problem, since the space alongside can be developed commercially restaurants, hotels, malls and so on.

Any other plans?

My second endeavour will be to achieve 100 per cent segregation of garbage, convert the degradable waste into manure at source and help people grow organic vegetables for their own use. These can be grown in pots or drums on terraces, balconies, open spaces in societies, just anywhere.

My dream is for every slum-dweller to have a productive potted plant, a lemon tree for instance, outside their doors. This is the cultural change I want to bring about.

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