Lonavala tragedy: These Pune spots under prohibitory orders; certain activities banned

Tourists enjoy a waterfall at Lonavala. Photo: iStock/naveen0301

After a five-member family lost their lives at Pune's Bhushi Dam's waterfall, the district administration has imposed prohibitory orders at several popular picnic spots, including Bhushi Dam and the Pavana Dam region, to ensure the safety of tourists during the monsoon season.  According to a notification issued by Pune Collector Suhas Divase on Tuesday, section 163 of the newly implemented Bhartiya Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita and the Disaster Management Act-2005 will be enforced at specific spots across Maval, Mulshi, Ambegaon, Khed, Junnar, Bhor, Velha, Indapur, and Haveli tehsils.  Violators will face action under relevant legal provisions. The order, effective till July 31, prohibits the following activities at these sites by tourists:
1) Gatherings of five or more persons
2) Entering deep water bodies
3) Taking selfies and creating reels 

Safety measures and spots
The administration has already outlined a series of safety measures for hazardous tourist locations, which include identification and demarcation of dangerous areas, the presence of lifeguards and rescue teams, and the installation of warning boards. More than 60 makeshift shops near the Bhushi Dam have also been demolished. Action will also be taken against unauthorised structures around tourist spots. The prohibitory orders will be enforced at specific sites, including:
1)  The Bhushi Dam, Bendewadi and Dahuli waterfalls in Maval tehsil
2) Tiger Point, Lion's Point, and Rajmachi Point in Khandala
3) Sahara Bridge, the Pavana Dam region, the Tata Dam, and the Ghubad Lake
4) In Mulshi tehsil, the orders cover Mulshi Dam, Tamhini Ghat forest area, and Milkybar waterfall. 

5) The areas in Haveli tehsil include Khadakwasla and Warasgaon dams, and the surroundings of Sinhgad Fort. 
6) In Ambegaon tehsil, the order applies to the Bhimashankar region, Dimbhe Dam region, and Kondhwal waterfall area.
7)  In Junnar tehsil, Malshej Ghat, local dams, the Shivneri Fort region, and Manikdoh are covered. 
8) Waterfalls around the Bhatghar Dam region 
9) Water bodies and fort areas in Bhor and Velha tehsils
10) Water bodies and ghat sections in Khed and Indapur tehsils 

The family caught up in the flash floods at Bhushi Dam (left). The waterfall near Bhushi Dam in Lonavala. Photo: Screengrab/Shutterstock/Raksha Shelare

Repeated incidents
During the monsoon season, a large number of tourists visit the Bhushi and Pavana dams, Lonavala, Sinhgad, Malshej and Tamhini and other places, nestled in the Western Ghats in the Pune district, often venturing into unknown and dangerous areas. The tranquil setting of the Pavana Dam in Lonavala has also been marred by a series of tragic drownings, underscoring the critical importance of implementing enhanced safety measures in the region. Four persons drowned in the Pavana Dam since January 2024, according to the Lonavala police. Rescue organisations like the Vanyajeev Rakshak Maval (VRM) reported recovering 27 bodies from various water bodies in Maval tehsil between March and May this year. The district collector had asked officials to identify the dangerous spots at various tourist places, such as dams, waterfalls, lakes, rivers, and cliffs, and mark them as prohibited areas by installing perimeter lines and warning boards so that tourists do not venture beyond them.

Places which are disaster-prone and where safety measures cannot be taken must be shut for tourists, he said. Agencies such as revenue, forest, railways, municipal corporations, and the Public Works Department should deploy divers, rescue boats, lifeguards, and life jackets at water bodies frequented by tourists. Ambulances with first aid facilities should also be deployed, the collector said. "If required, take action against those who violate the rules and regulations," Divase stated. He has asked local officials to implement all the measures and prevent loss of life. 

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