56 drowning incidents since 2019 in Thane, Navi Mumbai

Updated on Jul 30, 2022 09:46 PM IST

Fifty six people have drowned in various lakes, waterfalls and picnic spots in Thane and Navi Mumbai cities since 2019; while the district authorities issue prohibitory orders every monsoon, their implementation is a different story altogether; with lack of enforcement of these orders, people continue to venture into the rough waters at these picnic spots

Yeoor Lake in Thane is one of the popular picnic spots, especially during monsoon. Fifty six people have drowned in various lakes, waterfalls and picnic spots in Thane and Navi Mumbai cities since 2019. (PRAFUL GANGURDE/HT PHOTO)
Yeoor Lake in Thane is one of the popular picnic spots, especially during monsoon. Fifty six people have drowned in various lakes, waterfalls and picnic spots in Thane and Navi Mumbai cities since 2019. (PRAFUL GANGURDE/HT PHOTO)
ByAnkita Menon and Raina Assainar, Thane/navi Mumbai

Fifty six people have drowned in various lakes, waterfalls and picnic spots in Thane and Navi Mumbai cities since 2019.

While the district authorities issue prohibitory orders every monsoon, their implementation is a different story altogether. With lack of enforcement of these orders, people continue to venture into the rough waters at these picnic spots.

Since 2019, 37 incidents of drowning have occurred within Thane Municipal Corporation limits. As the city is surrounded by Ulhas River flowing on one side and the creek heading towards Uran, there are various spots that have easy access for the locals. Many visit water streams in Yeoor forest or Upvan Lake for leisure that turns tragic for some families.

Rajesh Narvekar, Thane District Collector, said, “Every year, we deploy extra police force at such tourist places across the district. However, it is not practically possible to always be present at such spots. We ensure there is enough barricading and specially-trained officers are present in these areas. That said, people also need to be more responsible.”

In 2019, there were four instances of drowning deaths, six in 2020 including one at Upvan Lake while there were 22 such instances last year, seven of which occurred post the second wave in the monsoon. This year has already seen five drowning incidents.

“Thane city has many lakes and creeks. There are illegal establishments near the creeks and often, accidentally during high tide, instances of children and youngsters falling into the creek have occurred. As these places have close proximity to the residential areas and city limits, youngsters often visit these places with friends to hang out. In the excitement, some head towards the water to swim. At many locations, the current or tide is quite heavy and hence some end up losing their balance and flow with the water. The Yeoor and Upvan Lakes are such spots in Thane where often people go to have fun and are unable to understand the depth and end up drowning. Every year, at least one incident of drowning occurs in these locations,” said Avinash Sawant, Chief, RDMC, Thane.

Prominent Yeoor area and Upvan Lake come under Vartak Nagar police station jurisdiction. Sadashiv Nikam, senior police inspector of this police station, said, “Last year, two incidents of drowning occurred in Yeoor near a small pond and we analysed previous year cases and realised that youngsters entered these sealed areas merely to be adventurous without having the knowledge of the depth. Police can’t be behind everyone. Therefore, we have joined hands with forest authorities and locals to keep a vigil. If we find anyone entering Yeoor forest, we inform forest guards or the villagers who stop the traveller from going to the water bodies.”

In Navi Mumbai, the CIDCO has prohibited access to the Pandavkada waterfalls for the monsoon. The Pandavkada waterfalls, a popular picnic spot, has witnessed at least 20 cases of drowning over the years.

In July 2005, during the deluge in Mumbai, four boys died of drowning in the waterfalls. Since then, every year, CIDCO and the forest department close the entry.

“Every year, at least two people die here due to drowning. Some youngsters come here in spite of knowing that this place is extremely dangerous during the monsoon. Hence, we have guards manning the place,” Dhaneshwar Sonawane, forest officer, said.

In 2019, nine drowned here, four in 2020, six in 2021 and none so far this year.

A CIDCO spokesperson said, “CIDCO had requested senior police inspector, Kharghar, in May to make the necessary arrangements for security at various locations in Kharghar node including Pandavkada, Phanaswadi, Chafewadi, Owe Dam during monsoon so as to maintain law and order. CIDCO has provided necessary warning signs and the police department has also provided a public notice board.”

However, revellers still continue to violate the rules despite all precautions in place, the police claimed.

“We have provided a guard there and also keep having regular patrols but the place is such that it has multiple entries from small hamlets. Revellers find their own ways to get in the water and that is a major challenge for us,” Sandeepan Shinde, senior police inspector from Kharghar police station, said.

(With inputs from Anamika Gharat)

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