4.5L rescued from flood-hit Maha districts

Mumbai: 11 August, 2019 (Hindustan Times)

Around 1.97 lakh were taken to safety from Sangli, Kolhapur and Satara to 306 relief camps on Saturday; rainwater likely to recede in next 72 hours

MUMBAI: Relief and rescue operations continued into the sixth day in the flood-hit districts of Sangli, Kolhapur and Satara on Saturday. Around 1.97 lakh people were evacuated today, taking the total number of people displaced in the floods to 4.5 lakh so far. Around 30 deaths have been reported in the last three days, said state disaster management officials. Flood waters are expected to recede from the 761 affected villages in 72 hours.

 Rescue teams reach out to residents stranded in Sangli on Saturday.

Chief minister (CM) Devendra Fadnavis visited the affected areas on Saturday and took stock of the situation. “We are trying to reach out to every person stranded in floods. The number of stranded people is so high that we cannot evacuate everyone at a time,” he said.

Fifteen Navy rescue teams joined the operations on Saturday, following a request from the state government for additional help. At present, 111 teams comprising the Army, Navy, coast guard, National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) and State Disaster Response Force (SDRF) have been pressed for rescue operations in Sangli and Kolhapur, which are worse affected than Satara. Until the water recedes, the displaced will stay in 306 relief camps set up by the administration.

Fadnavis said there was no lack of cooperation from Karnataka chief minister BS Yeddiyurappa. “They [Karnataka government] have started releasing 5.30 lakh cusec of water from Almatti dam which will expedite receding of water from all the affected areas. They too have some constraints as 129 villages in Karnataka too will be submerged if they will start releasing water in very high quantity,” said Fadnavis.

The next set of challenges facing the state administration would be avoid health crises and ensuring speedy rehabilitation once the waters recede. Over one lakh hectares of land, where crops were sown, are likely to have been damaged. According to the state rehabilitation and public works department, an estimated 4,444 kms of roads have been fully or partially damaged. There is also mass blackout in the area as 2,625 transformers of Maharashtra State Electricity Distribution Company Limited have been damaged.

The CM clarified that there had been no delay in starting relief and rescue operations, but the allegations over delay would be investigated. He promised strict action against officials found guilty of lapses. Fadnavis also said that the affected districts had seen an unprecedented amount of rainfall.

“For instance, Sangli had received 217% rainfall in 31 days in 2005 [when the area had last flooded] and this year, it has received 758% rains in just nine days. Similarly, in Kolhapur had received 159% rainfall in 31 days in 2005 and this year, it has received 480% in just 9 days,” Fadnavis said.

The state has increased the amount of financial assistance to ₹15,000 and ₹10,000 for each family from urban and rural areas respectively. The CM further clarified that a house need not remain submerged for two days for residents to be eligible for monetary help.

Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar also visited affected areas in Satara and Sangli on Saturday. He urged other states to come to Maharashtra’s aid. “Maharashtra left no stone unturned when there was a natural calamity in Gujarat, floods in Assam and drought in Bihar. It’s everyone’s responsibility to help each other so we all can stand on our feet once again,” he said.