Bhopal: Rain, thunderstorm leave 60 dead in four states

Jaipur/Bhopal/Ahmedabad: About 60 people were killed as rains coupled with thunderstorm and lightning hit several parts of Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat and Maharashtra overnight, officials said on Wednesday. The unseasonal rains and storm also caused damage to property and crops in Gujarat and Rajasthan. Rajasthan witnessed the maximum casualties with 25 people killed in rain-related incidents following by Madhya Pradesh where 21 were killed. While 10 people were killed in Gujarat, three were killed in Maharashtra.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi took to Twitter in the morning to express anguish over the loss of lives in the rains in Gujarat and announce relief.  Soon afterwards Chief Minister Kamal Nath hit out at the prime minister, accusing him of being concerned only about his home state Gujarat. Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh said the government is closely monitoring the situation in rain-hit areas and is ready to provide all possible help to states affected by rains and thunderstorm.

Rajasthan Disaster Management Minister Master Bhanwar Lal Meghwal said 25 people died due to unseasonal rains in the state. Compensation of Rs 4 lakh each has been announced by the Rajasthan government to the families of victims. Another official said crops have suffered damage and the assessment is being done. Several cattle were also killed in rain-related incidents. Rajasthan CM Ashok Gehlot condoled the deaths and directed officials to carry out survey of losses and damaged caused due to the rough weather. “Farmers have suffered losses due to the rains and storm and it is a matter of concern. I asked the chief secretary yesterday (Tuesday) to get the survey of losses conducted immediately so that compensation could be given on time,” Gehlot told reporters on Wednesday.

Rajasthan Relief Secretary Ashutosh A T Pednekar informed that 21 of the 25 deaths occurred in Jhalawar, Udaipur, Jaipur (four each), Jalore, Bundi (two each), Baran, Rajsamand, Bhilwara, Alwar and Hanumangarh (one each). Heavy dust storm accompanied by moderate to heavy rains, thundershowers also lashed parts of Hadouti region (Kota division) on Tuesday causing damage to crops. The MeT Department has predicted dust storm/thunderstorm accompanied with high velocity winds and lightning at a few places during the next 24 hours. Widespread rainfall accompanied by high-velocity winds lashed vast swathes of Punjab and Haryana also, causing damage to crops.

Expressing concern over the crop losses, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh ordered urgent steps to ascertain the extent of the damage to crops so that due compensation could be awarded to the affected farmers at the earliest. Officials in Bhopal said unseasonal rain accompanied by thunderstorm and lightning hit various parts of Madhya Pradesh, leaving 15 people dead and injuring some others. Rains claimed three lives each in Indore, Dhar and Shajapur, two in Ratlam and one each in Alirajpur, Rajgarh, Sehore and Chhindwara districts.

Nath expressed grief over the deaths and charged that Modi’s concerns were limited to his home state Gujarat. “Modiji, you are the PM of the country and not of Gujarat. In MP also, more than 10 persons were killed because of unseasonal rains, storm and lightning. But you have confined your feelings to Gujarat only. Though your party has no government here people live here also,” Nath said in a tweet. The BJP hit back, accusing Nath of doing politics over the loss caused by rains and storm.

BJP media head and Rajya Sabha MP Anil Baluni said in Delhi that Nath is well aware of the procedure that the state government has to first inform the Centre about the damage in such a natural tragedy to get relief but instead of doing so, he was tweeting and doing politics. “Instead of informing the Centre, he chose to do politics over the tragedy,” Baluni charged. In Ahmedabad, Gujarat government’s Director of Relief G B Manglpara told PTI that at least 10 people have died in the rain and dust storm reported from various areas, including districts in North Gujarat and Saurashtra region.

Centre monitoring situation: Rajnath Singh
The Centre is ready to provide all possible help to states affected by rains and thunderstorms, Home Minister Rajnath Singh said. Singh also said the Ministry of Home Affairs is closely monitoring the situation in all affected areas. “The Centre is ready to provide all possible assistance to the states affected by heavy rains and storm. The MHA is closely monitoring the situation in the affected areas,” he said in Twitter.

The India Meteorological Department (IMD) has issued a warning saying that several parts in north and northeast India may witness thunderstorm, hail and lightning.

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