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Baramati: Oasis in a power-starved state
A Ganesh Nadar in Baramati |
May 10, 2005 14:50 IST
The road from Pune to Baramati is good. As you near Baramati it gets better. When you enter Baramati you feel like having entered another world.
The roads are broad. There are dividers on most of the roads. The streetlights are the latest you would see anywhere in the world.
Hyundai, Hero Honda, Bajaj all have their two-wheeler showrooms here. Tata Indicom, Reliance India Mobile and BSNL are also highly visible brands.
The greenery is unbelievable. There are eucalyptus trees, palm trees, coconut trees among others. The fields have corn, bajra, jowar, bananas and grapes.
Beyond Baramati is Katiawadi, where Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar owns a farm. The road to the farm looks like it is leading to Shangri-La. There are trees on both sides. A small canal runs along the road.
At the farmhouse, you are told Ajit Pawar, who is the local MLA and minister in the Maharashtra government, is in his house in Baramati. He is Sharad Pawar's nephew.
The road around the Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation in Baramati is very good and rivals the national highways. Building cost of building the road was Rs 992 lakh (Rs 9.92 million), says a prominent board.
Sahyog Bhavan in Sahyog colony is crowded. The amount of open space this Bhavan has reminds one of the palaces of old. Ajit Pawar is holding court here. He is in a hurry as his uncle is due to arrive for a meeting in nearby Daund.
The executive engineer of the irrigation department is with him and is very helpful in telling us about the miracle behind this greenery.
Arjun Masud tells us the state-of-art irrigation system that is the pride of Baramati was actually constructed in 1887 on a small scale. It was later developed by successful governments.
There are three dams on the Nira river. The Bhatghar dam, which stores 8 TMC of water, the Niradev dam, which stores another 8 TMC of water and the Vir dam which stores 9.5 TMC of water.
Two canals from these dams irrigate the land. The Nira right bank canal, which is 172 km long, waters 1.25 lakh hectares of land. The Nira left bank canal, which is 168 km long, waters 50,000 hectares of land. As the Nira river is a perennial source of water, Baramati remains green throughout the year.
This irrigation system helped sugarcane thrive.
A dam is being built on the Gungulia, a tributary of the Nira, to enhance the storage capacity.
It will store another 8 TMC of water when completed. The irrigation system works on the principle of gravity and is not affected by the present power crisis. Moreover, both the Bhatghar and Niradev dams have powerhouses situated at the bottom of the dam where the water flows out.
They generate 16 MW of power as the water flows into the channel. They are planning to build powerhouses on the other two dams too.
The sugar mills are closed at this time of the year as cane harvesting has not begun. They will start during Dussehra. The sugar mills generate biogas from its effluents, which is used to generate enough electricity to run the mill. Powercuts, therefore, are not a problem here.
On the campus that Sharad Pawar has built are an arts, science and commerce college, an information technology college, an engineering college, a law college, a BEd college and a school of bio-technology.
The 156 acres within the campus make a green belt -- full of trees and plants. Dr Sushama Chaphalkar, director of the School of Biotechnology, explains that the campus had a drip irrigation system covering every inch of the place. It is watered with recycled sewage water.
There are solar heaters in all the hostels and residential areas. A mile from this campus is the Dynamics dairy farm.
This dairy plans to supply its effluents to the colleges, which will produce biogas from it. The power generated will light up the street lamps within the campus. The rest of the city faces power cuts for four hours a day but residents appear used to it. They don't complain much as they still get two hours of drinking water supplied to their home every day.