HYDERABAD: While a group of 12 boys and their coach trapped in a cave in Thailand, were rescued in a daring and unbelievable operation that captivated the world, in our country, in an event of much smaller scale, close to 110 people were stuck at Chincoti waterfalls in Maharashtra after torrential rains hit the region, last week. They had to be rescued using helicopters and other means.
Near home, in Telangana, regardless of the season one can see several incidents where many have lost their lives in three to four prominent waterfalls. According to forest department officials, people who want to take a shot at ‘adventure’ do not refrain, despite warnings and signboards, from going near the point of descent and plunge of waterfalls which could lead to sudden deaths.
Officials tasked with developing tourism at Bogata Waterfalls in Jayashankar Bhupalapally district, and Kuntala and Pochera waterfalls in Adilabad district, and others said that while the point where waterfall touches the ground is a danger zone as anyone can get washed away. The slabs of rocks on which water flows will be smooth but other parts will be jagged which makes it a treacherous path to walk on. If anyone slips when the water current is swift, he or she may get washed away or get grievously injured. Apart from the beauty of the site, Bogata and Kuntala waterfalls have made headlines for the number of people who died when they went for swimming in it.
When it rains heavily, the flow of water increases and even expert swimmers find it difficult to rescue people who drown or get washed away in a strong current of water. During other seasons people are not allowed to swim anywhere within 50 metres of the plunge point of Bogata waterfalls but no one is allowed even to step into the waters during monsoon. “People used to scale 20 to 30-feet to reach the point where waterfalls descend but that is dangerous. To prevent such misadventure, we erected fencing around those points. Yet, people used to scale the fence. After guards were deployed, many people who wanted to venture to the point of descent were stopped from doing so. Besides, our rescue team of expert swimmers saved many people from drowning,” said Suman Kalyanapu, Bhupalapally district eco-tourism coordinator.
Visitors trying to scale the rocks from where water flows down is a common site at Mallela Theertham in Nallamalla Forest. Nagarkurnool district forest officer M Jyoji said that though there were caution signs, they deployed staff to stop people from scaling to the peak of Mallela Theertham waterfall. Police help is also sought to address the issue. In the case of Kuntala waterfalls, a rescue team is posted from morning till evening.
Kawal Tiger Reserve closed for three months
Officials of the forest department said that the Kawal Tiger Reserve is closed for three months during the monsoon on the directive of the National Tiger Conservation Authority. According to them, this is the season when animals mate and give birth to their offspring, and trekking into the forests disturbs both animals and humans.
Though visitors are not allowed to trek into the tiger reserve forests, the staff have to patrol the forests even when it rains heavily. Since they have to traverse on muddy roads and when the path is filled with slush and water, they park their vehicles and go on foot to do patrolling and monitor the movement of animals and secure them from poachers who kill wild animals to smuggle teak and other forest wealth. “When it rains, the muddy roads become slushy and even two-wheelers cannot be driven on those roads. So we park them in a suitable place and walk,” said M Jyoji, district forest officer.
Women-run hotel to come up at Bogatha Waterfalls
Now, tourists visiting Bogatha Waterfalls have a reason to rejoice as the government is mulling over running a restaurant near the falls, where 15 women of different age groups would be seen taking orders, cooking and serving food. Bogatha waterfalls receive a footfall of 2,000 people a day, yet there is no food outlet there. In view of this, Forest department has selected 15 women from Cheekupally village. Some of these women are widows. The restaurant is likely to start by the end of this month. Suman Kalyanapu, Bhupalpally district Eco-Tourism coordinator, said the income and profits will be split into 70:30 ratio between the women and the Forest department respectively.
Animal-keepers work during monsoon as well
Animal-keepers place a kind of salt beside the pits which helps the animals in digesting food. “Even when it rains, animal-keepers walk to the pits and refill the containers with the salts. We cannot skip our duties even during rains. We wear raincoats and gumboots,” said an official.