The memory of flash flood in Panvel where we lived, on the evening of July 25 2005 and destruction in its wake sends chills in the spine of anyone who had witnessed it.
Although it was raining very heavily for three days continuously, although a thick solid sheet of rain was battering the land, nobody expected that it would turn into a nightmare.
Within minutes the area around Panvel was under 10 to 12 feet of water. It looked as if the Arabian sea has expanded and and gulped the pieces of land lying in its vicinity. The loss of property was huge though human lives were spared by the nature to some extent.
Many a times afterwards, I wondered where did so much water come from? I did some analysis thanks to Google Earth imagery. The area around Panvel is full of geographical features with uneven landscape and so many hills all around. Just after the Panvel town flows a river called Kalundre so named after the village on its bank. It seems like a sinuous ribbon of uneven thickness in summers and winter.
It is a seasonal river. On tracings its source, it is found that it flows from the hills and is formed from two rivers joining together. Source of one river is Kundsar lake and of another is Panvel lake situated under the foot of Gadeshwar hill.
Water is fettered at both places by barrages. Beyond the Gadeshar are Chanderi hills and one can approach Matheran through this area on a road leading to Dhandheri village from Panvel.
There is another very insignificant river which is known by the name Kirki the origin of which I could trace only to Shedung. I am not sure of that. Many people believe that ONGC colony which is like an island between these two rivers was inundated by this river. This may not be very true, because the capacity of this rivers is very less.
I surmise that very heavy rains threatened the dams up the hills and their gates were opened. Another factor was that Panvel being very close to the sea, in the event of high tide which was there at this time made it impossible for the area to bear the brunt of so much water coming like a demon on the town.
Next few days were so bad and depressing, that many people left the colony and searched for the safer houses on the upper floors. It is also a bitter truth that we are ourselves responsible for these disasters. By snatching the land which belonged to sea, where it used to dump its extra water in the times of high tide through a network of channels of water all around. We have filled these channels and constructed the houses.
Nature does not care about the differentials, its justice is done on an integral scale. Builders make profits and enjoy at safe places whereas the poor people bear the brunt of nature’s fury.