A day after cracks emerged on roads and structures in the rehabilitated Malin village, three families moved back to the temporary shelters they had been living in before shifting to the new homes two months ago. More are expected to follow.
Meanwhile, the district administration and Public Works Department (PWD), which initiated corrective measures on Monday, maintained shifting and stabilisation of the soil was expected and there was no reason to worry.
As many as 68 houses, which the district administration has claimed are resistant to natural calamities, including landslides and earthquakes, were handed over to the survivors of the Malin tragedy in the first week of April this year. On the morning of July 30, 2014, a major landslide had swallowed several houses in the village, killing 151 people. The rehabilitated village is located over two kilometres from the old village.
After the area received around 97-mm rainfall on Saturday night and early hours of Sunday, movement of soil mass at several places at the new site led to cracks and pits on the road, as well as cracks on structural joints.
Kamaji Pote, who lost six members of his family in the disaster, said, “How can they say this was expected? I have never heard of roads caving in like this. Look at the way the soil has moved right up the slope. What if it moves further, the school will be buried under the soil. Government officials are telling us not to worry. I want to ask, if they will live in a house where a nearby road has caved in and stairs have cracks?”
On Monday morning, three families shifted their household items to the tin shelters where they had been living before April. Sakharam Zanjare, who lost his wife and daughter in the landslide, moved back to his temporary shelter. He said, “We are not going back till we feel safe. Along with my family, the Lembhe and Dangat family too have shifted here. Four-five more families will move tomorrow. They have already started cleaning their houses.”
On Monday, teams from the PWD and district administration began work at the damaged spots. Chandrakant Naik, PWD executive engineer (North Pune), said, “All construction has been done on the slopes. For erecting structures, soil from outside has been brought in to create areas where the houses have been built. Outside soil always takes time to stabilise. It generally happens in the first and second heavy rain.”
Naik added, “We are also studying the water drainage pattern after the rain. We will make necessary changes in the water-passage channels. We are also telling villagers not to panic. They have gone through a lot in the past and it is understandable they are worried. But we are with them.”
Construction contractor Ramchandra Jagtap, whose company built the retaining walls and drainage system for the new village, said, “Various agencies, including a team from the College of Engineering, Pune, have time and again checked these structures. The parameters are as per their stipulated standards. These changes are local in nature and the overall structures are in no danger.”