Picnickers flock at Pandavkada waterfall, Owe Dam and Kharghar Hills, despite ban

Monsoon lovers have been ignoring the official order that has prohibited visiting these places, and others, from 11 June to 30 September 2023.

Picnickers and revellers have started visiting the Pandavkada waterfall, the Owe Dam, the Owe Hills and other such spots in Kharghar as the monsoon has finally set in. These areas have been overflowing thanks to the continuous rainfall in the city since a couple of days, enough to draw in monsoon lovers.

The Kharghar police had issued a public order banning visit to a number of places, especially the risky Pandavkada waterfall, starting 11 June till 30 September 2023.

However, just like every year, the plea has fallen on deaf ears and people have been blatantly ignoring the order.

The ban is a regular occurrence during the monsoons due to many past incidents where people had lost their lives by drowning in the overflowing water, either after slipping or getting drifted away by strong currents. In one such tragic incident in 2019, four people had drowned.

The list of prohibited spots in Kharghar this year carries the names of places like Pandavkada waterfall – the most ill-fated spot, the Driving Range waterfall, the Owe Dam and Hill, the Taloja Jail Pond and the Hill around it and some other spots that either have water flowing through or have accumulated waterbodies.

Noticeboards informing picnickers about the prohibition and the fines that follow if they are caught visiting these places, have been placed at all the entrances leading to such spots.

The Kharghar police have deployed constables at the Pandavkada waterfall’s main entry point near the Kharghar Gurudwara and at the entrance of the Owe Village which leads to the Owe Dam area.

However, revellers have been finding ways to visit these spots and others making use of the hilly terrain and multiple possible entries from other spots, which are impossible to be manned round the clock.

“We stop people from venturing into these places but they find different and isolated routes to sneak in,” a constable posted at one of the spots informed.

Many of these revellers happen to be youngsters who either go early during the mornings when there aren’t many constables around or simply take routes that are not monitored.

In the past there have been many incidents where people had gotten lost along the routes they had taken or simply got stuck in water-filled spots.

There was a much-talked about incident in July 2021 when as many as 116 picnickers had to be rescued by the fire department, after being stranded at the Kharghar Hills area for hours. The return route was cut off by an overflowing stream. Among the stranded were many women and children too.

These spots also get a good number of drunkards who make merry and throw away broken beer bottles around. Small incidents involving scuffles after drinking, falling down on the way back due to intoxication have been reported in the past.

A good number of people have also been hiking the Owe Hills area since a week. While families and youngsters usually hike here on weekends, the rains have been drawing in more people than ever. 

Advocate Shelly Pandya, a local Kharghar resident, shares, “While locals visit under the ‘false belief’ of knowing everything about the area, many come in from places outside Mumbai and are unaware of the prohibition until they reach these spots. Once here, they consider it a waste of time to go back without doing anything and end up visiting these places in any way possible.” 

“The irony is in the fact that the order issued by the police under CrPC section 144 has not succeeded in discouraging people from visiting these spots and putting their lives and that of their loves once at risk,” she adds.

The Kharghar police have been doing their best to make people aware of the risks involved but it is a matter of personal responsibility. If people cannot understand and abide by the rules then it becomes their own responsibility and liability.

Last Updated on July 11, 2023 by lp@admin

Post Author: lp@admin

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