‘Unexpected rainfall in the catchment areas led to floods’

Siddharth Gadkari
Sunday, 11 August 2019

The flood situation in Pune has sent alarm bells ringing in the Pune planning authority and citizens. On this issue, Sakal Times spoke to Municipal Commissioner Saurabh Rao to understand possible reasons for flood situation as well as civic body’s execution of disaster plan during the floods.

How do you analyse flood situation in the city?
First of all, we have to know the background of the flood situation. From the last 40 days, the city is receiving rainfall. In dams’ catchment areas, there is 150 mm to 200 mm rainfall every day.  All dams are overflowing. In Pune city, water comes from three sources i.e. Khadakwasla, Pavana and Mulshi basin. Water released from Khadakwasla basin includes Khadakwasla, Panshet, Temghar and Varasgaon dam directly goes into Mutha river. Besides that, water from Mulshi river comes from Pavana and Mulshi rivers. From these three basins, water crosses the city through Sangamwadi area and passes from Bund Garden. 

This year, water discharge was 1 lakh 40,000 cusecs at Bund Garden area in which Khadakwasla basin’s contribution was 49,000 cusecs. It is unexpected rainfall in catchment areas and water releases from three basins in the rivers resulted in the flood situation in the city. 

Do you think encroachments in Mula-Mutha river bed are responsible for worst flood condition in the city area?
Though, there was unexpected rainfall in catchment areas, water is expected to enter illegal households in low lying areas. But, there was waterlogging in parking areas and the first floor of buildings which are part of planned or sanctioned development buildings. It is an alarming situation for us. 

What are other reasons you think rather than encroachments or illegal structures and blue line?
There are other reasons which are not part of the blue line areas. City area’s natural water source i.e the nalas percolate rainwater but now, they have been blocked due to road concretisation. Societies are affected due to flood as natural water percolation has stopped.

So, what are you doing,  being the planning authority? 
Now, the civic body has taken photographs from drone of flood affected areas such as Aundh, Baner, Balewadi, Yerawada and Kharadi and newly merged areas of Vadgaon Khurd. It was to find out what was the status of the Irrigation Department’s red and blue line on paper and how much the civic body has given permission to the buildings in these line areas. It was also to find out how there was waterlogging outside the blue line areas if the corporation does not give permission to building structures in blue line areas.

Actually, the civic body does not give permission to buildings in blue line areas. Now, we have to find out if the buildings are not located in blue line areas, then, how they were affected by floods. We will also fix the exact limit of the blue line and to find where the floodwater reaches.  

There is a possibility of the wrong demarcation of the blue line as there was waterlogging in societies after releasing 45,000-49,000 cusecs which are not part of blue line areas. However, floodwater should have been restricted in blue line areas. Now, we have to find other reasons for floodwater affecting areas which are not part of the blue line. 

We have to think seriously on the flood issue because the civic body is responsible as we are planning authority. 

How did you tackle the situation and minimise any human casualty in this situation?
After receiving a Red Alert from the Irrigation division, we issued an order to be prepared. Our disaster plan is fool proof. We are fully prepared to tackle the flood situation. In fact, we provided three boats to Sangli and Kolhapur districts to rescue people. From the first day, the NDRF team was stationed in the corporation’s main building. There was good coordination between our officials and employees and we were communicating 24x7 with each other and  reviewing the situation. We are well prepared to tackle this kind of situation. However, for more disasters such as Malin landslide disaster, there are chances of improvement.

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