Mumbai: Heavy rains, coupled with high tide has caused flooding in some coastal areas of the state and the situation is critical in Ratnagiri district’s Khed and Chiplun areas. Three persons died in Parshuram Ghat, Chiplun, in a landslide while more than 5,000 people were stranded in Chiplun and adjoining areas because of the flooding. Torrential rains also wreaked havoc in Raigad, Palghar and Thane districts. Sugar belt regions of Satara and Kolhapur were also flooded by the incessant downpour, as were Marathwada and Vidarbha regions. Thousands of people were feared stranded by the floods.
The India Meteorological Department (IMD) has issued a red alert for Raigad, Ratnagiri, Pune, Satara and Kolhapur for Thursday, while nine other districts, including Mumbai, Palghar, and Thane, are under orange alert.
Nearly 6,000 passengers were stranded as train services on the Konkan Railway route in Ratnagiri were suspended on Thursday after the Vashishti river overflowed, following heavy rains.
So far, nine trains have been regulated due to disruption of services on the Konkan Railway (KR) route, meaning they have been either rerouted, short-terminated or cancelled, officials said.
Konkan Railway (KR) officials said stranded trains were at safe locations on different stations and the passengers in them were also safe and they were being provided food and water.
Water levels in the Vashishti river between Chiplun and Kamathe stations in Ratnagiri had risen above the danger mark after the heavy downpour, an official said. “In view of the safety of passengers, train services in this section are suspended temporarily,” he said.
According to rail officials, 5,500-6,000 passengers were stranded in trains which were regulated at various stations on the 756km-long KR route, which is spread across three states - Maharashtra, Goa and Karnataka - and passes through tough terrain.
The Dadar-Sawantwadi special train was regulated at Chiplun station and the CSMT-Madgaon Janshatabdi special train at Khed station. Konkan Railway spokesperson Girish Karandikar said passengers in these trains were safe.
“We have made arrangements to provide tea, snacks and water to all the stranded passengers,” Karandikar said.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke to Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray and discussed the situation in parts of Maharashtra in the wake of heavy rainfall and flooding. Modi has assured all possible support from the Centre to mitigate the situation. The PM tweeted, “Spoke to Maharashtra CM Shri Uddhav Thackeray and discussed the situation in parts of Maharashtra in the wake of heavy rainfall and flooding. Assured all possible support from the Centre to mitigate the situation. Praying for everyone’s safety and well-being.”
Thackeray chaired an emergency meeting and directed all agencies to be on close vigil and urged citizens to take due care amid the weather bureau’s red alert and forecast for heavy rains for the next 36 hours. The CM directed the administration to deploy choppers for the rescue of people.
Major rivers in Ratnagiri, including the Jagbudi, Vashishti, Kodavali, Shastri and Bav have been flowing above the danger-level following heavy rains. As a result of this, Khed, Chiplun, Lanja, Rajapur, Sangameshwar and nearby areas have been affected and the government agencies are engaged in the task of shifting local residents to safer places, the Chief Minister's Office (CMO) said.
The Vashishti and Shiv rivers, which course through Chiplun city began overflowing a little after 3.30am on Thursday, with the discharge of 2,100 cusecs of water from the Koyna dam, taking residents by surprise, as the snaking floodwaters began rising to alarming levels. Residents fear the present situation in Chiplun is far worse than that in the 2005 floods which ravaged the Konkan.
The old market area and the new bridge which straddles Chiplun city have been completely submerged by floodwaters. Due to continuous overnight rains, headwaters from dams passing through the Kumbharli Ghat have flooded Chiplun city. The Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation’s depot in Chiplun was submerged in flood waters.
The Disaster Management Department informed that immediate help and rescue measures were being taken. Relief and rescue operations are being carried out in Ratnagiri district by Indian Air Force helicopters.
Navy, Army and NDRF units have been deployed in flood-affected areas and CM Uddhav Thackeray is constantly being updated about the situation in the villages.
Besides, two units of the NDRF have been deployed in the district for flood relief. One detachment has reached Shirol taluka and the other has reached Karveer taluka. The two squadrons of 25 personnel each are equipped with state-of-the-art equipment like IRB boats, diver sets, life jackets, rescue ropes etc.
The NDRF said four of its teams had been deployed in Mumbai, and one each in Thane and Palghar districts. One team reached Chiplun in Ratnagiri district by late afternoon on Thursday.
The Ratnagiri district guardian minister, Anil Parab, said the water levels were likely to rise in the wake of heavy rains, adding that the administration’s priority was to shift people stranded in the water to safer places. He has ruled out the possibility of casualties due to floods.