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Friday, Aug 16, 2019

Maharashtra to constitute an expert committee to study reasons behind floods

The state government has also announced it will rehabilitate the people who have breached the flood zones on the coast of the rivers, to safer areas.

mumbai Updated: Aug 14, 2019 04:01 IST
Surendra P Gangan
Surendra P Gangan
Hindustan Times, Mumbai
Following the devastating floods that ravaged western Maharashtra over two weeks, the state government has announced it will set up an expert committee to study the reasons behind the floods and suggest measures to be taken to avoid a similar situation.
Following the devastating floods that ravaged western Maharashtra over two weeks, the state government has announced it will set up an expert committee to study the reasons behind the floods and suggest measures to be taken to avoid a similar situation. (PTI Photo)
         

Following the devastating floods that ravaged western Maharashtra over two weeks, the state government has announced it will set up an expert committee to study the reasons behind the floods and suggest measures to be taken to avoid a similar situation. The state government has also announced it will rehabilitate the people who have breached the flood zones on the coast of the rivers, to safer areas.

Meanwhile, the death toll in five districts in the Pune division has reached 49, while four people are still missing. Chief minister Devendra Fadnavis on Tuesday said the committee will study the impact of climate change in the state and particularly in the Western Ghats and suggest short- and long-term measures to avoid such climate extremes in the future. The decision was taken during a meeting of the council of ministers on Tuesday.

“The Western Ghats receive heavy rainfall every monsoon, but it received about 700% rainfall in just five days. The committee will look into the reasons of such downpour and suggest measures to be taken. We are considering shifting structures built on flood zones, to safer areas, during a rehabilitation drive of flood- affected people. ” Fadnavis said after the cabinet meeting.

Names of the experts to be appointed will be decided in due course.

The CM said the state government has also been in the talks with the Centre for alternative infrastructure as relief in areas cut off due to the flooding. Fadnavis said the national and state highways were shut due to flooding in Sangli and Kolhapur, owing to which the administration found it difficult to launch the relief drive. “I have spoken to Union road transport minister Nitin Gadkari to tap into the possibility of building more flyovers in such areas, so that the relief machinery is transported urgently,” he said.

The state government has also decided to raise a demand of a relief package of Rs6,813.93 crore from the Centre for the relief and rehabilitation of affected people. The fund has been demanded to compensate the next of kin of the people killed in the flood, compensation of the loss of livestock, reconstruction of the infrastructure of the schools and power-supply network and compensation to small-time traders. The relief package demanded from the Centre includes Rs4,708.25 crore for Sangli, Kolhapur and Satara and Rs2,105.67 crore for affected districts of Konkan, north Maharashtra and other parts of the state.

According to the preliminary estimates stated in the memorandum prepared to be submitted to the Centre for the relief, the estimated loss of crop in flooding in western Maharashtra is Rs2,088 crore, followed by

Rs222 crore against the loss of houses. The funds required for the construction of the roads owned by state and local bodies is Rs876 crore, while the estimated expenditure for the repair of the school and power supply network is Rs125 crore. In a first, the state government has also decided to compensate small-time traders and venders with 75% of their loss, with a maximum limit of Rs50,000.

Fadnavis said the memorandum prepared to submit to the Centre is based on the preliminary estimates of the loss and if required, a supplementary memorandum will be dispatched by the government. The assessment of the loss was done through an aerial survey by the Maharashtra Remote Sensing Application Centre on August 9.

The state government has decided to spend from its State Disaster Response Fund (SDRF) until the central government takes a decision on the relief package. According to officials from the relief and rehabilitation department, the Centre is unlikely to give the relief fund anything close to the demand raised by the state government as many of the demands are not, according to NDRF norms.

The state government has also decided not to press for the compliance of all the norms, while extending the compensation to the affected people. “There are a few standing orders prevailing for years. However, we have directed the local administration to implement them with a human face. Like in the case of compensation for the loss of livestock, even the punchnama by local revenue officials will be sufficient for help,” he said.

Meanwhile, rescue operation across three districts in western Maharashtra has been completed. The rescue teams of NDRF, Army, Navy and Coast Guard evacuated 6,49,868 lakh people from 1,16,461 families in 527 flooded villages in five districts. They have been housed in 463 temporary shelters. Except the NDRF teams, the other forces of Central agencies have started withdrawing from western Maharashtra. Thirty-seven villages in Sangli, Kolhapur and Satara are still cut off due to waterlogging.

First Published: Aug 13, 2019 23:53 IST

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