Back in 2010, Ram Nadi, the tiny rivulet flowing through Bavdhan, was in the news due to the havoc its flash floods unleashed in the area. Unauthorised constructions and blocking of the waterway were said to be the cause of the floods with geologists warning of a repeat in the future also.
Five years down the line, a fresh survey conducted on the terrain of the river by a team of geologists show that more than 20 per cent of the streams draining in the Ram Nadi have vanished and there is a 15 per cent reduction in the width of the stream.
The team comprising Tushar Shitole, principal in charge Mamasaheb Mohol, and researchers Shrikant Gabale and Mangesh Deshpande, used satellite imagery to study the watershed area of Ram Nadi. Spot survey and other methods were used to locate and trace the streams, which although existent on older records, have vanished now.
Draining over a watershed area of 50.95 square kilometres, the Ram Nadi originates near the Khatpewadi village in the Sahyadri ranges and drains off at the Mula. The rivulet passes through Aundh, Bavdhan and Pashan in Pune city and Bhukum Someshwarvadi, Bhugaon, Pirangut and other villages in the Sahyadri. The flash floods which had caused extensive damages in Bavdhan and other areas had brought to attention the issue of unauthorised construction and vanishing streams of the Ram Nadi for the first time. District collector and Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) officials had taken action against encroachments while there were talks of marking the flood lines for the river also, which did not happen.
Gabale, citing satellite imagery and other studies, said that 25 per cent of the streams which drain in the Ram Nadi has vanished in the last 25 years. Also, the river width was reduced by around 15 per cent due to constructions along the river bank. “Encroachments in the form of retaining walls, housing societies and other constructions have come along the length of the river. This has caused the disappearance of the streams,” he said.
Of the 416 streams which were draining into the Ram Nadi, 106 have vanished and the rest face the threat of disappearing due to the construction boom witnessed in the area.
With Bhukum, Bhugaon Bavdhan and other areas witnessing a major construction boom, in many areas the river bed has turned into an easy spot for dumping of debris. Settlements along the Ram Nadi has increased by 42 per cent in the last 25 years and such activities continue unchecked.
“The flash flood was due to the obstruction of the water flow and in case of heavy to very heavy rainfall, it can happen again,” Gabale said.