Sunday, April 19, 2009

Dhanori Lake - a natural community resource or a private property of Lunkad Realty?

Policemen deployed to protect the society's residents:

High drama and tension prevailed at Ambanagari Co-operative Society during an inspection visit by a three-member team from the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) which had come to inspect Dhanori Lake and its surroundings on Saturday morning.

A verbal duel also broke between the Ambanagari residents and real estate developer Amit Lunkad of Lunkad Realty in the presence of MoEF team members. To read more, please, visit - Dhanori Lake issue flares up again:DNA

Save Dhanori lake in Pune:

View Ambanagari Society, Dhanori Lake and other lakes in Pune in a larger map

NATIONAL SOCIETY for Clean Cities (NSCC), Pune has taken up the cause of Dhanori Lake after one of their mohalla committees, the Dhanori citizens forum, brought it to their notice. Residents of that area appealed it to help them preserve the lake. When the NSCC visited the site, it was completely convinced. We were also bowled over by its sheer beauty.

We have studied the situation and strongly feel that this lake should be conserved and the area around the lake be developed as a garden.

A brief history

Dhanori lake is covered under survey numbers 47 and 90 and the total area is nearly 11 hectares. According to the development plan (DP), serial number 47 is a residential zone and 90 is an agriculture zone. While studying the survey of India map of Pune, published in 1971, we noted that this area has been shown as a quarry and hence wonder how could it ever be shown as a residential zone in a much later DP. Even a study of the development plan of 23 villages shows it to be a quarry and also shows a rivulet flowing away from it..

The Gai Wadar Mazdoor Society used to be the owners and now the owners are M/s Vijaykumar Mehta and Ors. They have approached the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) for constructing residential buildings. They propose to do so by filling the complete lake with rubble and earth and stamping it down. This can be verified by the note submitted to PMC by their structural consultants.

Without receiving permission, the builders started dumping rubble into the lake and have filled up two corners of the lake. They even started de-watering the lake and dumping the water into PMC drains without permission. This continued until the mohalla committee complained and PMC sent a notice to the builders to stop this activity. In spite of this notice, the builders continued de-watering the lake and dumping rubble at night until stricter action was taken by the PMC..

The lake and its environment

The lake is a heaven sent and a very beautiful site. Words fail to describe it. The lake started off as a quarry. However the quarrying came to a stop nearly three decades ago as per the residents of that area as it filled up with water. This was the result of tapping an underground watercourse and this watercourse has filled up the lake. Now it has become a perennial lake and the depth of the water, even in summer, hardly changes. The quality of water is also very good and the water starved societies on the banks of the lake pump water for their use. A wide variety of birds visit the lake and even nest there. The lake is also home to an abundant aqua life and locals even fish there with nets and line. So not only does the lake serve as a complete ecosystem but also meets the water requirements of the nearby societies.

A report from a TUV certified laboratory shows the water from the lake to be potable. This makes it all the more imperative to conserve this lake.

Our request

We have written to the PMC requesting it to take into consideration the Development Control (DC) rule 11.1.b, which mentions inter alia, "Not withstanding the above, the authority shall be entitled to take cognisance of the existence of all water courses, whether shown on the development plan or not, while sanctioning layouts and no person shall take any action without the permission of authority, which results in reducing the water way or closing or filling up of any existing water course." We have also requested them to not allow the builder to dump any rubble into the lake and fill up the existing subterranean watercourse.

Also, permission should not be extended to the builder by the city engineer or zonal commissioner to construct any building as it will be against the provisions of the DC rules 11 for site requirement..

Pune does not have many lakes and one of this size (most likely Pune’s largest lake) is a rare and a wondrous thing - a gift from god that we should neither reject nor allow it to be ruined. Hence it is essential that all efforts are made to preserve this treasure for, which belongs to the people of Pune. With this in mind, we have further requested the PMC to take the necessary steps to acquire this property and conserve the Dhanori lake and its ecosystem. Press Release-12 Jul 2008

Join the Dhanori Citizens Forum to save Dhanori Lake:

Please, sign the online "Save Dhanori Lake" petition to Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC), created by and written by Satish Khot, President, NSCC Pune (

Partners in Destruction!

1) Baner Balewadi Development Plan:

In partnership with the State government, last year Pune builders made a mess of the development plan of Baner Balewadi. To read more, please, visit these blogs:

1) 8,000 citizens object to changes made by the state government in the Development Plan for Baner and Balewadi

2) Vandana Chavan reminds Ajit Pawar of his promise to Pune of no changes in land reservations for schools, playground and hospitals

3) PMC General Body defers support to fight against the state government move to make major modifications in the development plan of Baner and Balewadi

2) Ramnadi:

In 2007, Ramnadi was a big issue. Pune Municipal Corporation and Pune Builders had joined hands to destroy Ramnadi in Bavdhan, Pashan, Balewadi. Please, visit the following blogs to know more:

1) DC releases list of Ramnadi encroachments

2) Builders demand clarification ...(..!..?)

3) "Demolish encroachments" Anil Bhosale, Leader of the House

4) Encroachments at Ramnadi pulled down

3) Hill Top and Hill Slope:

In order to leave no stone unturned in their efforts to construct homes for you, politicians - municipal officials - builders all joined hands and destroyed hill tops and hill slopes in Pune! To know more, please, read these stories:

1) Illegalities in constructions will be probed:

Municipal commissioner Sanjay Kumar has initiated a highlevel probe into the 17 controversial permits granted by the civic building department for carrying out constructions on hills.

“I will initiate stringent action against the civic officers if the probe reveals that they have flouted the norms while granting permission,” Kumar told TNN on Tuesday. Kumar said he has directed the civic vigilance department to study each and every paper concerning these 17 cases and submit a detailed report at the earliest. Read More

2) Green development for the 23 villages

Punekars have received the best new year gift - A "green" development plan for the 23 villages which were merged in the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) in 1987!

Upholding the demand by the citizens and the media, the Planning Committee, set up for finalisation of the draft Development Plan (DP) for the 23 villages, has banned constructions on the hills and along the banks of the rivers.

The committee submitted the final draft of the DP to Mayor Dipti Chaudhari on Thursday. And, the good news is 1600 hectors of land in the 23 fringe villages has been identified as hills and has been "reserved" for "bio-diversity parks". Read More

3) Hill-slope construction brought to a halt

Construction activity at Survey No. 86, Sahakarnagar, which comes under the hill top and hill slopes zone, came to a halt on Saturday, following intervention by Congress corporator and former mayor, Vandana Chavan.

The process of blasting into a hill in the area for building a housing complex was stopped by the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) after Chavan threatened to proceed on a hunger fast. Read More

4) State admits to DP changes in hill top, hill slope area

The state government has finally admitted that the hill top and hill slope area in the Development Plan (DP) for Baner and Balewadi submitted by the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) had been altered.

The urban development department has decided to look into the reasons for the changes and is awaiting a report from Maharashtra Remote Sensing Applications Centre (MRSAC), the Nagpur-based state government agency, under the planning department. Read More

Only you can save Pune!

For more than 5 years, i have done adverting of Lunkad Realty. In those days, up to 2003, Lunkad Realty was Lunkad Housing and had all their projects in Viman Nagar on Nagar road. So i have worked with Amit Lunkad of Lunkad Realty and know him quite well. When i read this news about Dhanori Lake and saw his photo in DNA, two things amused me.

First, the news was about 'water'! Looks like that Amit Lunkad and Lunkad Realty has some mystic bond with "water". There was no water in Viman Nagar. (It is not there even today!)

Second, this is my first blog on Lunkad Realty and Amit Lunkad. But i am not feeling good about it. Lunkads, father and both sons, were more than my favorite clients!

However, when i visited all above stories, i realized that only you, property buyers, can stop the destruction of Pune. Only you can defeat the combined forces of politicians, government officials, builders and protect the citizens of Pune.

Just imagine, what will happen if you stopped booking a flat in Balewadi Baner till the government finalizes the development plan?

What will happen if you refused to book a property in the project constructed on the hill slope?

I don't think Lunkad Realty would have been interested in constructing "Lunakd WaterWorld" by filling up rubble in "Dhanori Lake" if they knew that property buyers wont book!

What say you? Please, share your views in the comments. (Comments Policy),

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  1. Hi Ravi,
    Thanks for highlighting the builder-politician nexus that is trying to 'kill' Dhanori lake. More civic activism is what we need. Last year, as a resident of Baner Balewadi, I was outraged to see the DP (which I called Destruction Plan) for the area. After a barrage of objections, the administration is reconsidering it. It is important to preserve the open spaces and hills instead of reducing the whole area to concrete sprawl. A revised DP will hopefully check the unorganised growth of the area thereby reducing stress on civic amenities. Another side benefit of a good DP is it will ensures existing properties appreciate at a healthy pace (due to limits on unchecked growth).

  2. Dhanori lake should be preserved and not made int o residential colonies by builders who are always on the look out for putting up constructions. their lobby is powerful but citizen power will win. the beauty of the lake is for the citizens of this beautiful city and no diversion of this lake should be permitted. water is always in short supply in our country and we should use dhanori lake as a back up for overcoming water shrtages in future.

  3. Dhanori lake,Suicide lake near Civil airport are all water bodies which need to be preserved and developed into safe potable alternate source of water for Pune City. Closing these lakes and making them concrete monsters is not a solution in any way.Similarly any concrete monster being put on hills and slopes should be boycotted. Then only the environment of Pune will be safe.Develop taller buildings like 20/30 storey flats and go further away from the city. The beauty and greenery of Pune can now be protected by thoughtful buyers who should evaluate and think before purchase.