Ham-handed authorities release water from Ajwa dam into croc-infested Vishwamitri river forcing it to overflow

Ahmedabad: Vadodara, the cultural capital of Gujarat, has been battered by a rain onslaught that held the city a virtual hostage for the second day on Thursday, bereft of basic amenities.

A sudden cloudburst, abetted by breach of the Vishwamitri, had over two million people marooned in a myriad water island with people forced to shell out a fortune for basic supplies like milk and water.

Though rainfall had receded by around midnight on Wednesday, ham-handed authorities added to woes of the rain-hit population by releasing water into the Vishwamitri river from the Ajwa dam which meets the city's water requirement throughout the year.

The release of more than 9,500 cusecs of water from the Ajwa dam caused narrow crocodile-infested Vishwami-tri river, which flows through the city, to overflow.

Instead of draining out the flood water, the river caused accumulation of more water on the city roads and along with the water also came some crocodiles, right inside some housing colonies, particularly those close to the river banks.

Finally, Army jawans from their cantonment base as well as five teams of National Disaster Response Force fanned out to assist people stranded in high-rise buildings where ground-floor houses in waist-deep water.

More than 1,500 stranded people in Vadodara and nearby Savli, Waghodia and Padra towns have been evacuated to safer places with the help of NDRF rubber boats.

While one youth was killed in a wall collapse in Sama area in the city, official sources said two identified bodies had been recovered from flood waters but authorities had no idea if they were flood victims or bodies that floated into the city from elsewhere.

Water had started accumulating in most parts of Vadodara city since Wednesday evening following a sudden cloudburst causing 450 mm rain to pour in less than six hours till late Wednesday night.

Since the city’s poor storm water drainage system is unable to cope with such huge concentrated rainfall, water accumulated in almost every thoroughfare in the city paralysing normal life. Vadodara airport was closed for the day because of water accumulation on the runway.

Several trains running through Vadodara were regulated while state transport bus services to the city were either terminated at Nizampura on the city outskirts or were diverted through the city by-pass.

By RK MISRA

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