Flood crisis deepens in Gujarat, Rajasthan; PM Modi inspects home state
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday announced a Rs 500-crore relief package for flood-hit Gujarat after undertaking an aerial survey of the affected districts even as heavy rains continued to batter most parts of north India.
The worsening floods killed another eight people in Gujarat, taking the toll to 82, as rescue teams stepped up efforts to save thousands of people marooned in submerged towns and villages.
In neighbouring Rajasthan, six people, including a 10-year-old child, died in rain-related incidents since Sunday. Rescue operations resumed on Tuesday in Jalore district where two Indian Air Force (IAF) helicopters were also pressed into service. Rain waters have also caused severe flooding and damage in West Bengal and Odisha.
After surveying the affected districts in north Gujarat, the Prime Minister announced an ex-gratia of Rs 2 lakh for the next of kin of those killed and Rs 50,000 for those injured grievously from the Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund.
“Everything possible will be done to help the farmers, who suffer immensely due to floods… While reviewing the situation, I could see the Government of Gujarat responded to the flood situation quite swiftly,” the PM tweeted.
Before the aerial survey, Modi took stock of the situation at a high-level meeting attended by chief minister Vijay Rupani, his cabinet colleagues and state officials in Ahemdabad.
Various places in Banaskantha and Patan, which are otherwise drought-prone, recorded 15 to 18 inches of rainfall between Monday and Tuesday morning. Heavy rains are likely to lash the state in the next 48 hours, according to the Met department.
In the last 24 hours, some 50,000 people have been shifted to safer places in the two districts. Over 1,000 people, including 40 stranded on their rooftops in Banaskantha, have been evacuated. Four IAF helicopters, two Army columns and 18 teams of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) have been deployed for rescue and relief operations.
More than seven lakh food packets have been air dropped in the affected villages as over 370 roads, including six National Highways, and 20 State Highways, remained inundated.
In Rajasthan’s Jalore district, seven persons, who had taken shelter on a tree and had to spend the night there, were airlifted on Tuesday. Bad weather and low clouds had thwarted four attempts to rescue them by choppers on Monday.
“Rescue operations resumed today in Jalore where columns of the Army and NDRF teams have been deployed. One NDRF team is in Pali and two NDRF and one SDRF teams are in Sirohi. Food packets and water bottles are being dispatched to villages surrounded by water,” Hemant Gera, secretary (Disaster Management and Relief Department), said on Tuesday.
Gera said, so far more than 500 people have been rescued in the three districts. Schools in five districts – Jalore, Pali, Sirohi, Jodhpur and Barmer – remained closed on Tuesday. Jodhpur’s Jai Narayan Vyas University cancelled the exams scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday.
The MeT department has issued warning for heavy to very heavy rainfall in south-western and south-eastern, which covers Jodhpur and Udaipur divisions, during the next 24 hours.
Meanwhile, the Assam government has sought an interim assistance of Rs 2,939 crore from the central government to deal with destruction caused by floods as an inter-ministerial team arrived in the state on Tuesday to assess the damage.
In Odisha, as the water level in three of the major rivers in the north crossed the danger mark on Tuesday, authorities in Keonjhar, Bhadrak and Jajpur districts stepped up their preparedness for rescue-and-relief operations. The situation in Balasore district was also being monitored, satte officials said.
The state government has already mobilised ODRAF, NDRF and fire services personnel to the flood-prone areas and kept power boats ready for the rescue-and-relief operations.
Meanwhile, the West Bengal Irrigation Department on Tuesday protested the Damodar Valley Corporation’s decision to release water from Panchet Dam, which it claimed has further worsened the inundation in the state’s low lying areas.
(With agency inputs)