Mutha canal’s morning breach saves Pune from major disaster

Nearly 350 low-income and slum tenements of Janata Vasahat were inundated with water on Tuesday morning after the Mutha right bank canal wall suffered a breach at around 10.30 am causing minor floods in the Dandekar bridge area.

The situation could have been far worse had the canal breached at night.

Irrigation department officials said the wall of the canal which brings water from Khadakwasla dam to the Cantonment water treatment plant, suffered a breach of almost 15 metres and water from the canal gushed onto Sinhagad road, Dandekar bridge and Janata Vasahat areas populated mainly by slums and small tenements.

Executive engineer (Khadakwasla irrigation division) P B Shelar said, “The Irrigation department halted the release of water immediately after receiving news of the breach in the canal wall. It will take some time to reduce the flow of the water as the canal is 11 km long. Once the water level reduces, we will repair the breach and resume water supply.”

The Fire brigade station chief PR Sonavane said that fortunately, most of the children had gone to school at the time of disaster. “We had to pull out just the elderly and small children of about 4-5 years. One lady and one child were taken to hospital for minor injuries. But no casualty was reported.”

Pune Mayor Mukta Tilak faced the wrath of the area residents who expressed their anger at her even as the police and civic officials tried to diffuse the situation.

“As per the primary report, around 300-350 houses have been damaged due to the floods. All civic departments are working on a war footing to assist the people. The people need not panic as we are with them,” she said.

When asked about the charge that the issue of canal leakages had been raised by the area residents in the past, Tilak said, “Yes, even the PMC had written to the Irrigation department. However, this is not the right time to blame one other. Priority should be given to help the people first.”

Immediately after the breach was reported, the discharge from Mutha canal was shut down. Water however, continued to gush out forcefully and the flow reduced only at around 2 pm.

The poor slum dwellers were shattered when they saw the state of their homes with television sets, two-wheelers, electronic equipment, food and clothes submerged in water.

At several places, weak constructions and walls had collapsed and the residents tried to collect their valuables from the debris.

“This man-made calamity has robbed me of everything. I was saving money for my daughter’s marriage but now everything is gone. My house is filled with water and mud and one section of the wall collapsed in the nallah. I will have to spend lot of money to get it repaired,” said Shivaji Hiwale, a 50-year-old resident of Janata Vasahat.

On arrival, fire brigade officials used ropes and human chains to rescue around 100-150 people from the locality. People who had gone out to work rushed back home on receiving news of the floods. However, they were held at bay by the police as water continued to be discharged with force.

First Published: Sep 28, 2018 15:09 IST

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