Maha floods toll now 192; Taliye search called off

The death toll in the flood-ravaged coastal districts and western Maharashtra rose to 192 after the recovery of 40 more bodies from multiple landslide sites in the past 24 hours
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Published on Jul 27, 2021 12:47 AM IST
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By Surendra P Gangan, Mumbai

The death toll in the flood-ravaged coastal districts and western Maharashtra rose to 192 after the recovery of 40 more bodies from multiple landslide sites in the past 24 hours. The number of people who have been evacuated to safer places touched 375,178 after shifting a few thousand citizens in Sangli and Kolhapur on Sunday. The state cabinet is on Wednesday expected to take a call on a special package to the flood-affected people, which includes widening the scope of relief norms.

Thirty-one more deaths were reported in Raigad after a few more bodies were recovered from the landslide site in Taliye village on Monday, taking the toll in the district to 95. Also, the search operation for the 31 people missing in Taliye was called off on Monday, officials said. Raigad district collector Nidhi Chaudhari said that those still missing will be declared dead following due process. The Konkan and western districts in Maharashtra have witnessed heavy rainfall since last week, triggering unprecedented floods and landslides.

Meanwhile, the toll in Satara touched 45, while 21 deaths were reported in Ratnagiri. Thane (12); Kolhapur (7); Mumbai (4); and Sindhudurg, Pune, Wardha, Akola (2 each), too, reported rain-related fatalities since July 22

Among 25 people still missing from eight flood-hit districts, 14 are in Ratnagiri with most of them said to have been trapped in a landslide in Porase in Khed tehsil. Thane, Satara and Pune have four, three and two people yet to be traced.

Barring Porase in Khed, Ratnagiri and Jor in Satara, the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) rescue teams have called off their operations after possibility of their tracing faded. The NDRF and armed forces have started withdrawing the rescue teams from flood-affected areas as water in almost all districts have receded. An NDRF official said 12 of 34 companies are being withdrawn. “As proposed by the local administration in consultation with the state government, 12 companies are being withdrawn. The remaining 22 teams on field will undertake restoration work in the respective districts. Barring two locations — Jor in Satara and Posare in Khed, Ratnagiri —rescue operations have been called off. The remaining companies, too, will be withdrawn gradually,” the official said. Sunil Thorave, resident deputy collector, Satara, said except for the landslide site of Jor, all other rescue operations at six landslides have been called off. “A 10-month-old girl is missing from Ambeghar landslide location, while two others are missing from Jor. In consultation with the villagers that reported landslides, operations have been called off as almost all missing people have been traced. The situation in the district has come to normal with the water level in all rivers coming down below their warning level. Barring a few roads in Mahabaleshwar, all state and district highways have been opened up for the traffic,” he said. Around 290 state and district roads in flood-affected districts have been completely shut down, while vehicular traffic on 469 roads has been affected. 140 bridges in Konkan and western Maharashtra are still submerged. Public works department minister Ashok Chavan has asked his department to assess the losses and take steps to ensure that the roads are opened at the earliest.

More than 3.10 lakh households in flood affected districts are still without electricity owing to the damage caused to the infrastructure. 960,00 households in 1,927 villages and towns suffered power outage since Thursday. 67 sub stations, 474 electricity lines and 14,737 transmitters had damaged in the flooding and downpour. Of them, more than 70% have been restored, according to a statement by the office of energy minister Nitin Raut. A total of 375,178 people have been evacuated to the safer places in eight districts. 206,619 people in Sangli, 150,365 in Kolhapur, 7,530 in Satara have been taken to either shelters or homes of their relatives. Though the water level in major rivers in Konkan and western Maharashtra has receded below the warning level, Panchganga in Kolhapur is still flowing above its danger level. The water level of Panchganga at Rajaram weir dropped to 48.3 ft from more than 54 ft two days ago, against its danger level of 43. NH-4 national highway between Pune and Kolhapur was opened on Monday, after closure for four days, for the essential services like fuel, gas supply and healthcare services. State government is expected to take a call on a special package for the flood-affected areas by widening the scope of the set National Disaster Response Fund norms. The government is considering to add a few more categories, including small-time traders, labourers to extend the compensation. Before the cabinet, chief minister Thackeray has convened a meeting with deputy chief and finance minister Ajit Pawar on Tuesday. The decision over the widening of the relief package is expected to be taken during the meeting.

“The norms for the compensation for the losses of housing structures, belongings and crops were changed during Nisarg and Taukte cyclones in last two years. On the same lines, the ex-gratia amount will be increased for the flood-affected people in Konkan and Western Maharashtra. The previous Fadnavis government had also added a few more factors by announcing compensation to the traders and rent for the people who have lost their roof until the new houses were build. The package is likely to have these additions too,” said an official from Mantralaya.

During a review meeting on Monday, CM Thackeray asked the respective departments to repair the roads on a war footing so that the traffic is resumed, clean up flooded areas to avoid epidemic diseases and restore supply of the drinking water. The water supply in 17 villaes in Ratnagiri and 20 in Sindhudurg has been affected, while 746 water supply schemes have sustained damages. The district authorities have deployed 459 medical teams in 496 affected villages for the medical help at doorsteps. District authorities have also been directed to complete the assessment of the losses at the earliest. The assessment is expected to take at least 10 days, though the preliminary estimates are expected to be submitted in next few days. The water resources department has been directed to install Real Time Decision Support system on 26 river basins in Konkan for the early alarms of the flooding. Seven of such systems will be installed in next three months. The state has also planned floodwalls for the towns like Chiplun which has river flowing from middle of the habitat. Similarly, the CM has also asked the relief and rehabilitation department for setting up the centres of State Disaster Response Force in every district. The respective departments also have been directed to expedite the process of the landslide affected villages. “The construction of the houses will be done by Mhada and other government agencies with the funding from CSR of corporate houses, central government schemes like PM Awas Yojana. Departments have also been told to identify more such landslide-prone villages and habitats in rural and urban parts and chalk out plans for their rehabilitation.

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Monday, October 25, 2021