The forest department has decided to ban tourists from visiting Pandavkada waterfall, because they have failed to station security guards at the waterfall to check any untoward incident.
Earlier in June, the forest office of the Panvel range had decided to station around eight to ten security guards at the waterfall specially during the monsoon. The security guards were supposed to be hired from the nearest villages under Joint Forest Management (JFM) scheme. However, the villagers are reluctant to work as security guards.
According to the forest officials, villagers of Owe gram panchayat who reside near the waterfall, did not cooperate with the forest officials in the formation of the JFM committee that was necessary to hire security guards from among the villagers.
“We tried to tell the villagers about the benefits of JFM, but they were not interested in the security guard’s job. Additionally, no villager is willing to replace the former chairman of the JFM committee, who died four months ago, and take other steps to make the committee viable for any scheme,” said Anil Parab, range forest officer of Panvel range.
According to the villagers, the returns from the security guard’s job would be negligible. They prefer jobs at various real estate projects in Kharghar where salaries are reportedly better. “We were told that we would get our salaries from the money we would collect from charging tourists visiting the waterfall.
So we are not sure about the money we would get. If we work at a construction site in Kharghar, we get Rs 300 to 500 per day with 365 days job guarantee while the security guard’s job does not give us any of these advantages.
We have expressed our disapproval for the formation of the JFM committee,“ said Salam Patel of Owe village. Two police officials from Kharghar police station will be stationed at the entrance of the waterfall on weekends to stop tourists from going to the waterfall.