27 dead, 2 lakh displaced as Maharashtra flood fury continues
While the rain has abated to an extent, dam waters have not yet receded in the worst-affected districts of Kolhapur and Sangli, 376km from Mumbai.Updated: Aug 09, 2019 10:50 IST
At least 2.05 lakh people have been displaced so far and 27 killed in the floods that continued to ravage western Maharashtra on Thursday. While the rain has abated to an extent, dam waters have not yet receded in the worst-affected districts of Kolhapur and Sangli, 376km from Mumbai.
With a forecast of very heavy rainfall again on Friday and an estimated 30,000 to 35,000 stranded people still awaiting rescue, the situation in these two districts remains serious.
Chief minister Devendra Fadnavis, who undertook an aerial tour of the flood-affected districts, said that the situation would improve after Karnataka releases 5 lakh cusecs of water from Almatti dam. “The situation is most grim in Sangli... Home minister Amit Shah held a meeting with both Karnataka CM BS Yediyuruppa and I to resolve this issue. They (Karnataka) have agreed to discharge this water by tonight,” said Fadnavis. He admitted that Karnataka had concerns about releasing so much water as it could potentially flood some of its own regions downstream.
The CM was speaking to the media in Kolhapur in the afternoon after conducting his aerial tour along with ministers Chandrakant Patil, Eknath Shinde and Girish Mahajan. Fadnavis’s aerial survey comes in the wake of the massive flooding in the region. He also announced that he had called off his Mahajanadesh yatra in the light of floods.
“Nearly, 2.05 lakh people have been evacuated by the government machinery in five districts of western Maharashtra. And, so far, 27 have died. The worst-affected districts are Kolhapur and Sangli. In the other three districts of Solapur, Satara and Pune, things are under control,” said Pune divisional commissioner Deepak Mhaiskar.
He said that of the 2.05 lakh, nearly 80,390 people were evacuated in Sangli, and another 97,102 people were evacuated in Kolhapur. Those evacuated in Sangli were given shelter across 94 relief camps, while those in Kolhapur were given shelter in 154 relief camps. The divisional commissioner also informed that an estimated 30,000 to 35,000 people were said to be still stranded, but these figures were not confirmed.
On Thursday, 10 inches of water had receded in Kolhapur, while nine inches of water had been added in Sangli. The situation in both these districts had worsened due to increase in the backwaters of Almatti dam in Karnataka and flooding of Krishna rivers and its tributaries, Panchganga and Dudhganga.
The big tragedy of the floods on day four came from Brahmnal village in Sangli where a local village gram panchayat-led rescue operation went awry. The rescue boat overloaded with an estimated 35 to 40 people capsized drowning, as many as nine people.
State disaster management official said that until 4pm, nine deaths had been confirmed and 19 people were rescued. “There was a panic-like situation. So, perhaps without considering the capacity of the boat, the rescue was tried. We are trying to reach everywhere and we will also try to airlift people, wherever necessary. Our priority is evacuation of people,” said Fadnavis.
He also said the state government would not shy away from announcing a national disaster in the state if the situation did not improve.
The chief minister has also given directives to survey crops destroyed in the floods. In Kolhapur district itself, 67,000 acres of crops are estimated to have been impacted by the floods.
By Thursday, 21 rescue teams comprising of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), State Disaster Rescue Force (SDRF), Coast Guard, Army and Navy were conducting operations in Sangli and another eight teams were in transit. In Kolhapur, 48 such teams were conducting rescue operations. In both these districts, 104 boats were pressed into rescue ops.
However, locals and opposition complained that the rescue operations had failed to reach all those who were stranded.