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Next time you visit a waterfall in Shahapur or Badlapur, don’t try to click a picture too close to the waters: you might be taken to the nearest police station.
With people flocking to waterfalls near Thane in droves during the monsoon, police have been deployed at several waterfalls in Badlapur, Shahapur and Kasara to prevent accidents.
“Every year people come to the Mahuli waterfalls. Despite warnings, they try to enter the water or climb up the stones. We usually get 10-15 calls every fortnight regarding accidents, of which some are fatal,” said a senior officer at Shahapur police station. The Badlapur police, under whose jurisdiction the Kondeshwar falls are, agree. “During the monsoon, tourists flock to the waterfall and, despite the warning boards, end up entering the water. While there are, thankfully, less fatal cases, severe injuries are reported regularly,” said a police officer.
This year, the police in all these areas are taking pre-emptive action to prevent accidents. “We have one-two constables manning the spot during the weekends. On weekdays, we send patrol teams in short intervals,” said an officer from Shahapur police station. “We have to keep vigil under all circumstances. Every year, we make arrangements. But this year, we want to prevent accidents by ensuring police presence at all times,” he added.
The police have also gone a step ahead. “Earlier, we would only warn people and let them off. But now, we have decided to detain overzealous tourists for a few hours,” said a police officer. The police have also roped in local villagers for surveillance. “The villagers have been living here for years, and understand and respect nature. They work as our eyes and ears if we can’t reach in time. They also discourage people from climbing uphill on slippery slopes,” said an officer from Badlapur.
“It is indeed a glorious season and the view is beautiful. We want everyone to enjoy the natural beauty too. But, the police have put up barricades for a reason. We don’t want our waterfall to be the cause of anyone’s death,” said Rakesh Patil, a villager living a few kilometres away from the Mahuli waterfall. Shreya Nangare, another villager, said, “Safety comes first. As long as everyone is safe, the monsoon can be enjoyed by everyone.” “Till now, in comparison to last year’s four deaths in Mahuli waterfall, no deaths have occurred,” said an officer from Shahapur police.