Pune’s Monsoon Pleasures – Khadakwasla Dam

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Our lovely city has favorable climatic as well as topographical conditions for survival. Beautiful weather, abundant rains, lush greenery; what more can a resident need for sustenance? This has led to a rise in Pune’s population, with people migrating from other states and cities to lead a relatively gentle life in Pune.

Much of Pune’s survival is owed to the gifts by nature. For where we lack in natural resources, we have made up for by constructing man-made structures which ensure our safety and prosperity. Khadakwasla Dam is one such government architecture which aids our water shortage problem. Along with being a water reservoir, it also acts as a tourist destination. Let’s explore this beloved dam!

Pune
Image by Vivek Joshi

A staggering 1.6 km long, the dam is built on the Mutha river. The length of the Khadakwasla backwaters is around 22 km, and the maximum depth is 36 m (118ft). The dam has 11 radial gates and six irrigation outlets. The original dam was built in 1869 as a masonry gravity dam founded on hard rock, it was the first of its kind, designed by Sir M. Visvesvaraya. The dam was finally operational in 1879 at an investment of Rs. 65 lakhs.

The dam was constructed after severe droughts which took place in the 19thcentury in Pune; it affected agriculture massively. Captain Fife Re of the British army recommended a high level reservoir and after detailed surveys and investigations, the reservoir was built. This man-made lake was named after him- Lake Fife. After independence, it was later renamed as Khadakwasla Lake.

When the Panshet dam erupted, Khadakwasla lake was already 90% full with water due to abundant rainfall. The newly constructed Panshet dam could not adjust to the rising water levels and the dam developed cracks and eventually broke. Fortunately, Khadakwasla dam was breached after Panshet, word had gone around and the nearby areas were evacuated. However, our city was still flooded. The dam was rebuilt over a period of four years, during which time citizens had to face water shortage again.

Pune

The modern day dam has highly technological aid, ensuring that it doesn’t erupt again. Adequate canals and gates help in guiding excessive water to other rivers and lakes. Water filtration is also carried out at Khadakwasla and providing water to the entire city is carried out with little efforts.

Lavasa was constructed all thanks to the Varasgaon lake, which is aided by Khadakwasla water. Due to the rise in tourism, there’s a fear of water pollution but efforts are being carried out to keep the water quality at the optimum.

The nearby ‘chowpatty’ has taken birth due to the rise in tourism. Although it might look harmless, it’s proving to be a great threat to the water quality. The garbage from the chowpatty is polluting the water which reaches our homes. As aware and responsible citizens, we should ensure our own safety and that of others; spreading awareness and educating the less fortunate ones about the hazards of water pollution can go a long way in keeping our beautiful dam and our lives safe.

Feature image by Abhijeet Borkar.

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