Alarmed by the worsening flood situation in Uttar Pradesh, Chief Minister Mayawati on Wednesday summoned government officials to discuss relief measures being undertaken in the 21 affected districts.
The chief minister issued directives to all district magistrates concerned to ensure timely relief to the 16.5 million flood affected people.
What set the alarm bells ringing at the highest level were the rising waters of the Gomti river in Lucknow, inundating the posh Gomti Nagar area and threatening to make inroads into Mayawati's dream project - the Rs.1,000 crore ($250 million) Ambedkar Park.
Knee-deep water could be seen on most roads of Vipul Khand, regarded as the VIP corner of Gomti Nagar, where construction was in full swing at the Ambedkar memorial site.
Bureaucrats as well as some ministers rushed to the flooded parts of Gomti Nagar, directing local authorities to spare no efforts in preventing water-logging.
Even as a number of pumps were installed to take out the accumulated water from all low-lying areas in the state capital, officials feared that an overcast sky and rising humidity could bring more rain.
While Lucknow remained among the badly hit districts, the worst was Sitapur, where 56 people had perished on account of heavy rains and floods, which had taken an overall toll of 725 human lives since the monsoon season began June 1.
“Most of the deaths had occurred due to the collapsing of houses, largely in the rural areas where houses are built with simply mud and mortar,” G.K. Tandon, the state relief commissioner, told IANS.
“Even though there has been some respite in the rainfall over the past four days, most of the major rivers are continuing to flow above the danger level,” he added.
These include the mighty Ganga, Ghaghra and Sharda, which have been flowing above the danger level for more than 40 days.
“Flooding of some 3,691 villages had occurred either due to the absence of embankments or on account of breaches in the existing embankments. As many as 674 villages continued to be marooned in flood waters,” said Tandon.
The chief minister has ordered payment of an ex-gratia amount of Rs.100,000 to the next of kin of each person who has died. Suitable compensation is also being paid after official assessment of the damage to owners of 84,693 houses, of which 3,219 were completely devastated.
The government has estimated the overall loss to be close to Rs.2 billion. “But this is bound to go up over the next few days,” said the official.
As many as 150 motorised boats were being operated under the supervision of some 1,700 state paramilitary personnel, including divers, to assist the flood affected people in inundated or marooned areas. Moreover, 1,792 private hand-rowed boats had been pressed into service to ferry people in and around the flood affected villages.