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Devastation in Panvel

August 01, 2005 13:12 IST
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Readers tell us how they coped on Terrible Tuesday and its awful aftermath. Reproduced almost verbatim:

I'm writing to you about what I heard on the condition of the Panvel town and surrounding villages. The long-awaited news I heard from a neighbor is horrible -- even as compared to the general condition in the Mumbai area.

Most part of the old town of Panvel is completely wiped out. The flood-gates of the nearby Gadheshwar dam were opened around 11 pm on Jul 26 and, within 30 minutes, the water level rose to 10-15 feet in the low-lying areas of the old town. The gushing waters washed away people, cattle and everything else -- all within a matter of minutes.

Next day, when a few people took an old man's body for cremation to the local smashaan, there were 300 bodies in the queue waiting to be cremated! Loss of life is huge and that of property is simply immeasurable.

Perhaps the most noted loss - at least on emotional grounds - is that of an old teacher and her husband: Dr and Mrs Mahajan. Mahajan Baai used to be a distinguished teacher of the local VK High School and KV Kanya Vidyalaya. Almost everyone in old Panvel knew her and was taught by her. She always helped the poor and the needy, and encouraged the talented. One of her most distinguished students is the ex-Lok Sabha Speaker Mr Manohar Joshi.

Mahajan Baai taught both my parents and me, and was always a big inspiration to me. When the waters started gushing in her house, a few neighbors came over to evacuate her. But she stood firm and refused to leave her ailing, bed-ridden husband - Dr Mahajan. Finally, they embraced death together.

This's a story of dedication to one's loved one. Mahajan Baai instilled tremendous confidence in her students in her lifetime and she died an exemplary death! She'll always be alive in the hearts and minds of her students around the world.

Appeal for Help

Looking at the current media coverage, it does not seem that there is enough awareness of the extent of damage in that part. So, I would like to request you to generate this awareness and mobilise whatever resources you may have to help people there. Additionally, please give enough prominence and publicity to the charity organisations that may be set up to help people piece their lives together. I would like to underscore that the loss is immense and it will be years before the beautiful town of Panvel can be back on its own feet. Thanks.

Austin, Texas

My name is John and I am writing this mail from Pennsylvania, US. I had posted an article on Rediff asking for help about my parents. They live in a village called Mharal, which is 4 km away from Kalyan. The flood situation there was very bad.

A large number of people offered me help after reading that article. My mailbox was full of mails from people who offered me whatever help they could. I was really touched by the undying spirit of the Mumbaikars even in a tough situation like this.

I had a talk with one of my cousins in Dombivli yesterday, who happened to visit my parents. He told me that my parents are safe and secure. There is no light or electricity in the area and the telephone lines are still out of order. I am very relieved to know that my parents are doing good. There has been a lot of damage in my area, but everyone is safe. I really thank God for that.

I would like to thank each and every one of those good Samaritans who offered their help to me and I would also like to thank Rediff for publishing my article on their site. Rediff really did a great job throughout this entire calamity by keeping people updated and helping the needy in the time of trouble. Keep up the good work Rediff.

Once again thanks a lot to each and everyone. I really appreciate all your efforts. Three cheers the Spirit of Mumbaikars. May God Bless you all.

--John Varghese

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