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We have lost sleep for fear of being buried alive, say people living near Goregaon hillock

Residents of 80 houses that are barely five feet away from a hillock in Goregaon are fearing for their lives after a minor landslide last week

If Wednesday’s landslide in Pune district’s Ambegaon taluka, which left nearly 35 dead, wasn’t bad enough, a similar tragedy could hit even closer home soon.

Also read: State Disaster Management Authority hasn't met in 3 years

Anand Nagar slums in Goregaon (East)
Anand Nagar slums in Goregaon (East)

Residents of 80 houses in the Anand Nagar slums in Dindoshiwadi, Goregaon East, which is adjacent to a hillock, have literally been losing sleep for fear of a portion of the small hill coming crashing down on them.

Their fears proved true when a minor landslide happened last week, and residents say it is only a matter of time before a major one takes place, burying them and their houses in debris.

Some of the houses are barely five feet away from the hillock. Pics/Nimesh Dave
Some of the houses are barely five feet away from the hillock. Pics/Nimesh Dave

The locals, whose houses are barely five feet away from the hillock, say they have been complaining to the local BMC ward office, but nothing has been done to help them. “We have been staying here for more than 30 years and there was no issue earlier as there was a lot of tree cover on the hill, which held the soil together and prevented landslides.

Over the years, however, the trees have been illegally axed.  The problem of landslides has begun only in the last five years or so, as the construction of a high-rise is in progress on the hillock,” said a resident.

“After the minor landslide recently, none of us have been able to sleep in the night for fear of being buried alive under mud and rocks,” he added. Residents have, in fact, started sending their kids to houses that are at a greater distance from the hillock in the night so that at least they can sleep safely.

mid-day visited the area yesterday and found that mud from the hillock has been falling into the gap between the small hill and the houses. When it rains heavily, the mud falls onto the roofs of the houses and even comes seeping in through the doors. One of the houses even had a small tree fallen on it.

Work stopped
Maya Hiten Rathod, a resident of one of the affected houses, said, “I have been staying in the area for more than 10 years but the problem started only five years ago after the foundation of the high-rise was laid on top of the hill.  We approached police officials and the BMC last year, after which the work was stopped.”

The building’s developer had put up safety nets around the hillock last year so that mud and rocks don’t fall on the houses, but the nets are torn and are of no use anymore.

Another resident, Mohammad Asad, said, “We are not against any person or developer.  Our only request is that a retaining wall that should be constructed between the houses and the hillock so that we can sleep peacefully knowing that we, and our children, are safe.

A resident told mid-day that the BMC had issued notices to people staying near the hillock to shift their houses 80 feet away from it. “We have been staying here for more than 30 years and this is how we are being treated.

Also read: Landslide-prone areas not under us, says the BMC

How can we shift our houses? Where is the land? If the government is serious about our safety, it should rehabilitate us,” said resident Sandhya Bendel.Despite repeated attempts, Assistant Municipal Commiss-ioner  Ramakant Birdar was unavailable for comment.

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