Saturday, Oct 25, 2014

Before Malin, the 1961 Pune flood and the 1989 Bhaja landslide

Written by Prasad Joshi | Pune | Posted: August 1, 2014 1:38 am

Twenty-five years before Malin, it was Bhaja village in Pune district that was covered in mud following a devastating landslide. And 28 years before that, half of Pune city was submerged in floods of a scale never seen before or since. The Malin landslides have revived old-timers’ memories of those two disasters.

On July 23, 1989, a landslide killed 39 people at Bhaja village in Mawal, 60 km from Pune city. The village was at the base of a mountain known for its 22 rock caves dating back to the second century BC. Overnight rain resulted in a very large portion of the mountain coming down and burying a group of houses around seven in the morning.

Former minister Madan Bafana, who was the local MLA then, tells The Indian Express, “I rushed to the spot with then chief minister Sharad Pawar. We saw houses completely covered with mud and remains of bushes and trees.” He says the rescue operation took more than 15 days and the government rehabilitated over 100 families.

The Pune flood of July 12, 1961, was caused by a 100-foot breach in the Panshet earthen dam following heavy rain. There is no official count for the casualties but the river Mutha gushed into the city, submerged nearly half of it and left hundreds homeless in hours.

Veteran socialist leader Bhai Vaidya says there was mud all around after the floodwater receded around 11 pm. “There was a spate of rumours about the magnitude of the flood and it was difficult to contain them, as there were no communication devices in those days.
People living on riverbanks were running about for their lives. Many climbed atop Parvati temple and Chaturshringi temple. The temples turned rescue camps as people stayed there until the floodwaters receded and rumours stopped.”

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