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Mutha canal breach: Helplessly watching homes getting destroyed was extremely painful, say Janata Vasahat residents

300 families spent the night at temporary shelters in civic schools; they returned home next day to clear debris, search for valuables

pune Updated: Sep 29, 2018 18:10 IST
Ashish Phadnis
Ashish Phadnis
Hindustan Times, Pune
Mutha canal breach,bjp,mla
Residents of Janata Vasahat returned to their flood-ravaged homes on Friday after the Mutha canal running though the area breached its bank walls on Thursday morning.(HT PHOTO)

Even though the initial impact of the flood-like situation has passed, residents of Janata Vasahat near Dandekar bridge are still reeling from the shock of having their lives completely shattered. On Thursday morning, the Mutha canal running through the area breached its bank walls flooding the tenements of Janata Vasahat, leaving hundreds of families homeless.

According to official statistics released by the Pune municipal corporation on Thursday, at least 300 families have been affected.

On Friday morning, residents, most of whom spent the night at temporary shelters prvided in civic schools, returned to their flood-ravaged homes to start clearing debris and to begin the search for valuables and other necessary items left behind.

Archana Dhimdhime is one such Janata Vasahat resident. She who works a sweeper for the PMC Dhayari ward office and is unable to stop her tears while recounting the incident. Archana lives with her husband Namdev, who is a patient of paralysis and two children in one- room house.

When the water started gushing down the narrow lanes, she was at home and with the help of her neighbours, climbed on the tin roof and carried her husband and 1.5-year-old daughter Kavya, with her. Her elder son Abhijeet, a Class 7 student, was at school.

“It was the worst hour of my life. I was sitting on a tin roof, holding my small daughter and paralytic husband. Our home was getting destroyed in front of our eyes and I was worried about my son, who was at school. For medical purposes, I had kept a few thousands of rupees in a cupboard and some jewellery. Everything was carried into the nalah and we were just waiting for rescuers. After an hour, the fire brigade came to rescue. I was happy that my son was safe as the water didn’t affect his school area,” she says.

“We have now lost everything. Though the PMC and other NGOs are providing us food and water for a few days, we will have to start all over again, as we have lost everything. The only positive thing is, we all are safe and sound and we are ready to face any challenge,” says Archana.

Her neighbour Sindhu Loha Kadam, who also works as sweeper, has similar story to tell.

“I worked on Anant Chaturdashi (Ganesh immersion day), and took a comp off yesterday. Fortunately, I was home when the incident occurred. Otherwise it would have been impossible to save my kids, who stay home when I am at work. As everyone was busy saving their own lives, none would have come for my children,” said Kadam.

Like Dhimdhime, Kadam also climbed on the tin roof and stayed there till the rescuers came. The force of the water broke the wooden front door of her home and deposited tonnes of debris in front of it. Even after the water was drained out, Kadam was unable to enter her home for some time.

Though help for flood victims is pouring in, residents are claiming that it’s not reaching to those who actually need it.“The help is not reaching us. They want us to abandon our homes and go on to the street, stand in a queue and collect food and clothes. Already our homes are collapsed and valuables are lying in the open. We can’t leave the place,” said Bhagyashree Nagpure, who works as maid.

“Fortunately my both sons were safe in the school, but all their books, notebooks and clothes got damaged in the water. This is quite big blow for us. This man-made disaster has destroyed our lives,” says Nagpure.

City unites to ensure relief in place

Doctors of Arogya Sena during a medical check up for the flood-affected residents. ( SANKET WANKHADE/HT PHOTO )

Several NGOs and the Pune municipal corporation (PMC) have begun providing food, water and shelter to residents affected by waters of the Mutha canal breaching its banks on Thursday morning.

“We have a set-up for 300 people ready and we can provide food and shelter for a few days, until they get their houses in proper condition. Some of the residents have moved to their relatives’ homes in the other parts of the city, while others have come to us and we are giving them the support,” said one volunteer of Rashtra Seva Dal at Sane Guruji Smarak.

A women’s self-help from from Vrundavan society, Kothrud, is providing clothes to the women and girls.

“When we came to know about the incident, we started gathering clothes for women from nearby societies and are now handing these to those who have lost everything. Apart from food and water, the need for dry clothing is essential for these women,” said Aparna Dhariya.

Ramkrishna Math on Dandekar bridge also offered a helping hand to the victims, providing them food.

Rs 1.5 lakh swept away...

Shiv Sena spokesperson Neelam Gorhe handed over a cheque of Rs 1.5 lakh to the Bodekar family. Suresh Bodekar, who works as a labourer at Market Yard, had taken a loan of Rs 1.5 lakh for his son’s JEE admission. The cash was kept at home and the Bodekar family were shattered when they realised the entire sum of money got washed away in the floods that hit Janata Vasahat. Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thakare instructed Gore to help the family.

Many houses are illegal in the area

While residents are busy rebuilding their homes, the PMC is planning to now mark clear boundaries and curb illegal construction in the area.

“Many houses are built without any permission and violating PMC norms. Due to narrow lanes and closely built houses, it was difficult for the fire brigade to reach the spot. The houses built in the open drainage area are the houses that suffered the most,” said one PMC official, on condition of anonymity.

“However, right now, it would be ruthless to tell people to go away, as they have lost everything, but these illegal constructions intensified the gravity of the incident,” added the official.

It was the worst hour of my life. I was sitting on a tin roof, holding my small daughter and paralytic husband. Our home was destroyed in front of our eyes and I was worried about my son, who was at school. Everything was carried into the nalah, says Archana Dhimdhime, PMC sweeper, flood-affected resident ( HT PHOTO )

BJP MLA blames digging work for cables, pipelines; Civic official rejects charge

Madhuri Misal, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) member of legislative Assembly (MLA), on Friday, said that the digging work by the Pune municipal corporation (PMC) for laying closed water pipelines from the Parvati water treatment plant to the Pune cantonment cater treatment plant was responsible for the Mutha canal breach that led to the flooding in Janata Vasahat area on Thursday morning.

Misal added that the Maharashtra state electricity distribution corporation limited’s (MSEDCL) digging work to lay cables also contributed to the damage. She alleged that the PMC did not conduct any safety audit while carrying out the work.

Irrigation department officials, however, said that the soil had become loose owing to the issue of crabs that had increased in the area, thus leading to the canal breach.

The civic body’s water department head VJ Kulkarni, however, said that the real reason behind the canal breach was poor maintenance by the irrigation department. “The PMC had alerted the irrigation department,” he said. He rejected the claim that the civic body’s closed water pipeline work was responsible for the disaster that affected nearly 300 families.

First Published: Sep 29, 2018 18:08 IST