At around 3:15 am on Friday, Lorna Pinto Phillips was startled by a loud noise outside her house. After asking her watchman what had happened, she realised six trees in her backyard, which overlooks the Ghorpadi railway line, had fallen. Adding to her woes, her garden and driveway were flooded again with rain water, as the only channel had been compromised.
Phillips says she had foreseen something bad would happen a year and a half ago, when the Railway Department began setting up a new line, while simultaneously, work to connect the nearby storm nalah to the Bhairoba Nala began.
“The work began last year, and railway workers and officials have been digging and doing construction in the area,” she says. “We gave it to them for public development, and it was also mapped out where the wall will be. But, since then, the drainage system is a mess, and there is flooding in my property, with my driveway and garden all being under water. It was somehow manageable last year, as I got kilos of murram and gravel put later so no sludge is created. However, a few months ago, they dug out my boundary post when I was in church, and started work again. They even removed the murram. When I intervened and asked them not to do anything to the trees, the railway officials said they will do all repairs and “plant more trees for me”. Whenever I ask what they are doing, they do not tell me.”
The dirt had washed away due to the flowing rain water, and with the boundary post now missing, gave way to newer worries for Phillips. “Stray pigs have walked into my garden…Meanwhile, the overflowing water has dampened the outhouse, and I am afraid it will give way if I do much. There is also the fear of snakes, which come out during this season,” she says. So far, no railway official has turned up at her residence to see the problems they have created, she says.
Phillips adds that while she approached the local police chowki in Ghorpodi, and an executive office of the Pune Cantonment Board, no one has come up with a definite solution. “…The trees fell the other way, but there was a possibility they could have come crashing down into my house. It is unfortunate and there is only so much a senior citizen like me can do. I cannot stay in such circumstances, and I want officials responsible to do the needful. They should cut off the branches of the fallen trees, plant new ones, mend my boundary post and also fix my garden with murram and gravel,” she says.
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