The pounding rains of Pune have given hopes of abundant water supply; they have rejuvenated nature with lush greenery with carpets of grass and bathed plants and trees that look sparkling and new.
Yet, there is a note of pessimism in their visit…
When the Mula-Mutha Rivers which otherwise look like deadpans, emanating stink of sewage as you pass by the bridges over them, suddenly are filled up with gushing waters that dance in turbulence and high speed, it is enthralling to watch their lively avatars.
Not surprising that hundreds of Puneites throng to the bridges to see this heartening spectacle. The green cover too all around Pune wears an enriching look and the hills and hill slopes get embedded with a carpet of lush greenery.
This is all thanks to the majestic rains that have given us a sigh of relief from a threatening water crisis. They have been pounding since the last one week and amidst their glorious visits, are ugly oasis of flooding that threatens the property and lives of citizens.
The bad karma of those who give permissions or turn a Nelson’s Eye to illegal encroachments like constructions on flood lines of the Mula and Mutha banks, cementing vital nallahs and streams, dumping construction material on river banks and roadsides and being callous about garbage disposal, gets visible when rains mercilessly lash Pune.
Thus, bringing an air of calamity, to the otherwise spirit of the rains, associated with romance, bliss and a sense of joy.
Flooding in low lying areas; some in the downtown pockets and others in new residential neighbourhoods – like Kasba Peth, Mangalwar Peth, Somwar Peth, Aundh, Baner, Sinhagad Road, Wakad,Dattawadi and Sangvi – required rescue of people stranded in their individual homes, housing societies and even a couple of hospitals.
Such flooding has not only become common since the last one decade but it is growing in the number of neighbourhoods and in severity. While NDRF teams and the fire Brigade have been constantly busy lifting stranded residents and patients in trucks, boats and even bringing them on their bodies, the worst scenario cannot be ruled out, monsoon after monsoon.
Hence, I remember as a child, we would make paperboats and when the skies cleared for a bit, we chased butterflies. Today, parents and children are overwhelmed with their parking areas flooded, sending alarm bells to save them!
Just to recall, in 2011, the unprecedented flooding on Pashan Road and Baner Road snuffed the lives of at least a dozen people.
The overflow of the Ram Nadi and the gushing waters from the hill slopes around, had officer goers, way back home, caught unawares; some of them losing lives. The fury was such that people could not commute on Baner Road particularly at the mouth of Abhimanshree Society and Sindh Society, as the road was filled with a few feet of water. Residents in these neighbourhoods helped the stranded passengers by giving them their landlines and mobiles to call the near and dear ones and shelter with tea and food.
What’s depressing is that, such floods are man-made disasters. When the Pune Municipal Corporation consistently and since years, continues to give permissions and overlook building constructions which violate the norms such as laying the foundation on water bodies, big and small, and just nothing, not even the death of citizens can make itself more accountable ; be it known that more and more danger lies ahead.
Similarly, come monsoons and the roads prove to be a nightmare.
Where is the opportunity to even look at greenery around you? The citizen is constantly battling with pot-holes, sometimes looking menacingly at you and sometimes camouflaged under the rain water and; traffic jams which build up instantly with rains. I’ve never understood why the same road gets more clogged with the rains; I guess it is because maneuvering through it becomes challenging due to the obstacles.
Come monsoons and you have all kinds of viral fever and even Dengue, spreading like wildfire. Every family is affected with this threat. So, is it possible for parents to happily tell their children to play in the rains? Infections spread so fast that prevention, at the expense of being paranoid, becomes a norm.
Thanks to the streetside garbage (which is still all over in plenty) and mixes with the rain water, the environment becomes truly unhealthy.
Pune is known for picturesque natural landscapes during monsoons and the most sought after places are the Khadakwasla Dam and Sinhagad Fort. But alas, access to both these places too has become agonizing. When our family took to the Khadakwasla Dam last Sunday, we had to return from the CWPRS, as the traffic jam was simply horrendous.
As for Sinhagad Fort, the road has been barricaded due to the extra slush and threat of a rock fall. And of course, water falls are becoming opportunities for mishaps while selfie clicking!
So, where does that leave us? Just worrying when the rains lash and remember our childhood poem
‘Rain, rain go away; Come again another day’
Such a tormenting feeling, really!
#All views expressed in this column are the authors and Pune365 does not necessarily subscribe to them
That's Vinita Deshmukh, Senior journalist and RTI activist who believes in journalism that reflects the views and needs of the common man.
Get Real And Stay Relevant says Vinita,