Navy's plan will ruin your Bhushi dam party

Jul 20, 2011, 06:41 IST | Salil Urunkar

Proposal by naval training institute INS Shivaji to takeover reservoir and land around, will keep out tourists

Proposal by naval training institute INS Shivaji to takeover reservoir and land around, will keep out tourists

If the Navy has its way, the picture postcard Bhushi dam could well be seen in photo frames only. Indian Navy Ship (INS) Shivaji, a premier technical training institute, has proposed to takeover the area of the Lonavla dam for its activities. If the institute gets it's way through, the most popular gateway of tourists from Pune and Mumbai will turn into a restricted zone, prohibiting entry of civilians and killing tourism-dependent economy of Lonavla. Earlier, the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) had also sent a proposal to the Central Railways to turn the area into a tourist hub.

Holiday hot-spot: More than 10,000 people visit Bhushi dam during
the weekends between June and September every year. File pic

The Bhushi dam and the Bhugaon lake, both frequented by tourists, comes into the jurisdiction of Central Railways. The dam and the land around it comes under public and private category. The railways used to source water from these water bodies for its steam engines. However, it's not clear as of now whether IRCTC and INS Shivaji are eyeing the same plot.

Police Inspector Vishnu Pawar from Lonavala city police station, said, "In a meeting held a couple of days ago, the INS Shivaji institute officials gave a proposal about taking over the Bhushi dam area for its own activities. This would restrict free public access to the dam, particularly on holidays. It would also reduce traffic congestion in the area and also deaths due to drowning in the dam."

When contacted, the officer of the day (OSD) from INS Shivaji said that the establishment would not be able to comment on the issue at this stage. "A competent officer will make a statement in this regard at an appropriate time," the OSD added. Central Railways Public Relations Officer A K Singh from Mumbai told MiD DAY over phone that they had not received any proposal so far. Shridhar Pujari, a Lonavala-based businessman, said, "We are not aware of any proposal, debarring entry of tourists in the Bhushi dam area. But if it's true then it's a cause of worry for us."

Past mishaps
In the past six years, 24 deaths have been reported due to drowning in and around Bhushi dam. The population in Lonavla and Khandala is around 40,000, but this figure touches the 1.25-lakh mark on holidays, especially during the peak period from July 1 to August 15, when the dam overflows. The parking bay near Bhushi dam has a capacity of 2,500 vehicles but on holidays more than 15, 000 vehicles enter the city due to which the parking spills on to the main internal roads.

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