Sangli, Kolhapur floods: No early warning issued by govt, says public
The people of Sangli and Kolhapur districts in western Maharashtra were completely unprepared for the massive scale of the devastating floods which gripped the two districts over the last one week.
The situation was compounded by the absence of any effective early warning mechanism from the state government about the impending floods in Sangli and Kolhapur districts. At least 25 people lost their lives in the two districts and two persons were reported missing even as nearly 4.5 lakh people had to be evacuated and relocated to safer locations.
Daulat Desai, Kolhapur district collector, said, “While it is true that our mechanism of reaching out to the people with the pre-warnings did not completely succeed in these districts, from our end, we tried the best in our capacity to reach out to people with the flood warnings.”
Explaining the process of issuing the warnings, Desai said, “The moment we were alerted by the IMD (India Meteorological Department), we immediately notified all our tehsildars who were given the responsibility of spreading the message further. While we alerted many people, however, I accept that our attempts were not enough.”
According to Desai, currently, the district administration has no other way of communicating with the people in case of such emergencies.
Ever since the floods occurred, multiple agencies including the district administrations and rescue teams from the army, navy, coast guard, NDRF (National Disaster Response Force), voluntary agencies and members of the public have been engaged in rescue and relief operations.
While citizens lauded the efforts taken by the administration, they were upset with the administration for not warning them about the floods.
Avdoot Budhale, 48, said, “The water was first at a low level. By the time the day ended, our house had almost submerged under water. The rescue teams have reached today. While we are thankful for the rescue, we were left without a warning or preparation, as our lives went down under.”
A number of people said that no warning was issued before water was released in large quantities from the Koyna, Warna and Radhanagari dams which led to the floods. A report by the South Asia Network on Dams, Rivers, and People (SANDRP) blamed the floods on the mismanagement in releasing water from various dams that resulted in the floods.
“While moving around on ground doing the rescue work and medical relief, our NGO realised that none of the flood-affected area residents were warned adequately regarding the disaster that was coming their way. I definitely feel that this is a lapse on the part of the departments concerned. More than 50 per cent of the losses could have been avoided if proper study, preparation and intimation of the situation was done in a timely manner,” said Milind Dhond, a city activist from Kolhapur.