Pandavkada may be shut this monsoon too
Tourists throng the Kharghar waterfall during rain, but PWD has failed to increase safety measures
NAVI MUMBAI: Pandavkada waterfall is likely to be shut for tourists this year during monsoon as the public works department (PWD) has failed to take sufficient measures for the safety of visitors.
Last year, too, the forest department had imposed a ban on entry to the waterfall for the same reason.
In view of frequent cases of drowning, the authorities had decided to construct a 3.5-km wall encompassing the waterfall which would prevent haphazard entry to the danger zone.
The City and Industrial Development Corporation (Cidco) gave Rs1.33 lakh to the forest department last year and the forest department forwarded to the PWD. A year down the line, the PWD has done nothing in this regard. People can still enter the waterfall through various routes.
“We thought the PWD would take speedy actions to make the popular site safer for revellers. To our disappointment, they have done nothing. Even if they start the construction of the wall now, they will not be able to finish it before the onset of the monsoon,” said Nilesh Bhujbal, forest officer, Panvel.
“Taking the safety and security of the revellers into consideration, we banned entry to the waterfall last year. We will discuss this matter with our seniors and see what we should do this year,” he added.
Hundreds of visitors from different places of Navi Mumbai and the peripheral areas come to the waterfall for a picnic between June and September every year.
During the weekends, the number of revellers goes up to 3,000-4,000.
A senior officer from the PWD department on condition of anonymity said, “The tendering process for the proposed wall construction is over and the project will be started soon. However, we don’t think that there will be big change in the scenario even after construction of the wall.”
The forest department constructed an artificial pool near the waterfall two years ago, so that the revellers could bathe out in the open, without entering to the danger zone.
They also developed a small garden for the children near that pool and put boards of dos and don’ts to create awareness among the people.
Earlier in 2005, the forest department had imposed a ban on the waterfall after four students drowned while swimming. However, the ban was lifted later.
According to sources in the police department, as many as 12 students drowned in the waterfall in 2011; the number reduced to five in 2013.
“Even though we imposed a ban on entry last year, scores of people visited the waterfall during weekends. Thankfully no untoward incident was reported,” Nilesh Bhujbal said.
Between June and September, Pandavkada waterfall at Kharghar sees around 4,000 visitors during weekends.