Pan­davkada may be shut this monsoon too

Hindustan Times ST (Mumbai) - HT Navi Mumbai Live - - NAVI MUMBAI - Pranab Jy­oti Bhuyan pranab.bhuyan@hin­dus­tan­

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.

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