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Sudden release of water from dam catches people unawares

At home he has been facing acute scarcity of water that is available only on alternate days ever since the Pune Municipal Corporation announced a 40 per cent water cut.

Written by Express News Service | Pune |
July 22, 2009 4:29:36 am

At home he has been facing acute scarcity of water that is available only on alternate days ever since the Pune Municipal Corporation announced a 40 per cent water cut.

On Tuesday,Kaustubh Jejurkar of Pashan was grappling with excess water after his car was caught in the flooded road under Tilak Bridge opposite the PMC building. The riverbed road,as it is called,was flooded after the gates of the Khadakwasla dam were op ened.

It caught people unawares. “This was unexpected. It hasn’t been raining well this season. Besides it comes at a time when we have been getting water supply for two-and-a-half-hour in the morning ever since the water cut was announced and that too on alternate days,” said Jejurkar. Those who saw the water rising said it happened all of a sudden after 5 pm and by 6 pm the road was under water.

With the Khadakwasla dam reaching the 100 per cent live storage mark on Tuesday,17,311 cusecs of water was released submerging the Baba Bhide Bridge at Deccan.

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The sudden release of water stumped the citizens who had parked their vehicles,mostly two-wheelers,in the river bed area. Even as water was being released,the fire and police department officers were seen pulling out vehicles trapped in water.

“At Tilak Bridge,we pulled out eight vehicles. As the water level was rising,we sent squads with loudspeakers warning people to remove their vehicles. We even announced it on the radio. Many complied. However,we could not trace many who had parked their vehicles,” said M D Rathod,senior police inspector,Vishrambaug police station. In all,the police and the fire brigade had pulled out 12 cars till 7.30 pm. A family that had come from Junnar to the city for shopping parked their vehicle at Phulachiwadi at 3 pm and when they arrived three hours later,they found the traffic police hauling their car out of the waters.

Jejurkar said although his office was in nearby Shaniwarwada area,he was caught unawares. “The authorities could have intimated the city in advance,or maybe used the media for this purpose,” he said.

Joint Commissioner of Police Rajendra Sonawane put the blame on the citizens. “People should have known that it is not a parking area,” he said. 

Many people said the police should not have allowed vehicles to be parked in the area. “What they are doing now (clearing the roads of people and vehicles),should have been done as soon as they knew that the spillways had been opened,” said an onlooker. Some blamed confusion and poor coordination as reasons for the predicament the citizens were caught in. Irrigation officials said they had passed on the information,once at 2 pm and then at 3.45 pm,that nearly 13,000 cusecs would be released. The civic body said it had intimated the traffic department at 5.15 pm (the water was released at 5 pm). The district flood control authorities said they had passed on the information on time.

Irrigation officials released 13,000 cusecs initially and increased it to 15,000 cusecs at 6 pm and finally 17,311 cusecs at 7 pm. Executive engineer Khadakwasla division Shivaji Bolbhat said that if catchment areas experience heavy rain,they would release water at the rate of 30,000 cusecs. Last August,56,000 cusecs was released. The irrigation department can release upto 97,000 cusecs,which was done only in 1997. The last five years have seen the irrigation department release roughly between 56,000-60,000 cusecs.

Municipal Commissioner Mahesh Zagade has asked his officers to keep a watch on the situation. Deputy Municipal Commissioner Pravin Ashtiker,in charge of the flood control cell,has alerted the zonal commissioners. “Only if the water released goes above 30,000 cusecs do we need to worry about slums in the area,” he said.

IMD director (weather central) Medha Khole said more rainfall activity would be seen in the coming days.

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