Mumbai: Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Sunday conducted an aerial survey of flood-hit areas in Satara, Sangli and Kolhapur districts in Maharashtra where 40 people have lost their lives since the unprecedented deluge swamped the region, causing largescale destruction and displacement of over four lakh people.
Even on the seventh day, the flood situation showed a marginal improvement as the water levels in the worst-hit Sangli and Kolhapur districts have been receding slowly. This is despite more than five lakh cusec of water discharge from Almatti dam on Krishna river in neighbouring Karnataka and light showers in the districts. An official from the Chief Minister's Office (CMO) said Devendra Fadnavis brifed Shah in the morning about the current flood situation and the measures undertaken in the southern regions of Western Maharashtra.
"We have been sending a daily dossier on the flood relief measures and coordination among various rescue teams to the Union Home ministry," he said. Meanwhile, with the recovery of five more bodies, the death toll in the Thursday's boat capsize tragedy in Sangli district has gone up to 17, officials said. Around 105 teams of the Army, Air Force, Navy, National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), the Coast Guard, State Disaster Response Force (SDRF), police and local officials are carrying out rescue operations in the western Maharashtra region, officials said.
While 54 teams are posted at Kolhapur, 51 teams are working in Sangli. A senior official said the total 4,48,000 people have so far been evacuated from flood-hit areas across the state, including 4.04 lakh people from Kolhapur and Sangli districts. "As of now 4.48 lakh people from various flood-hit districts, mostly from Sangli and Kolhapur, have been shifted to 372 temporary camps and shelters," the official said. Kolhapur and Sangli districts have been battling unprecedented floods since the last seven days. The floods were triggered by huge release of water from dams in western Maharashtra and from Almatti.
Thane, Pune, Nashik, Palghar, Ratnagiri, Raigad and Sindhudurg districts had also received heavy rains. According to the official, 761 villages in 69 talukas have been affected by floods. On Sunday, the Krishna river in Sangli was flowing 9.2 feet above its danger level of 45 feet, while the Panchganga river in Kolhapur at 7.6 feet higher than the danger mark of 43 feet, officials said. On Saturday, the Krishna river was flowing at 55.10 feet while the Panchganga river at 51.8 feet.
"With the recovery of five more bodies the death toll in the boat capsize incident in Sangli has risen to 17. A total of 40 people, including the 17, have lost their lives in the last seven days in rain-related incidents in five districts of western Maharashtra," a district administration official said. He said Amsiddha Narute, one of the persons who had gone missing after the boat sank, was found to be alive.
On Thursday, nine people drowned and as many others went missing when the boat capsized during a rescue operation. Three more bodies were recovered by Saturday and five more were found till Sunday. In some areas of Kolhapur, food packets were being dropped by helicopters as the connecting roads remained submerged, an official said. Rescuers, including NDRF and military personnel, have received kudos from locals for the relief work in the region.
Some women and girls tied 'Rakhis' on the wrists of the jawans of the Navy, Army and NDRF on Sunday. Members of the Muslim community from Sangli and Kolhapur districts have decided to celebrate the festival of Eid al-Adha falling on Monday without fanfare. Instead, they will donate to the flood victims. Help has started pouring in for the flood victims from various strata of the society. "A team of 100 private doctors from Thane is headed to Sangli and Kolhapur to provide medical assistance. Apart from medicines, they will also be carrying clothes and blankets for the flood-hit people," an official said.
A Maharashtra State Electricity Distribution Company (MSEDCL) official said the power meters damaged by floods in Kolhapur and Sangli will be replaced free of cost. "We have asked people not to switch on any device at their homes if water entered their power meters. The MSEDCL staff will inspect every affected house before restoring the power supply," he said. As many as 50 cows, 42 buffaloes and 11,100 hens, 23 calves and 58 goats have perished in the floods in the Pune division.
The discharge of water from Koyna dam (in Satara) stood at 53,882 cusec as its catchment area was still experiencing torrential rains, an official said. The catchment areas of nearly all dams in Kolhapur received over 100 mm rainfall in last 24 hours, he added. Meanwhile, the chief minister on Sunday announced that each flood-hit family in the state will get Rs 5000 in cash in person while rest of the financial assistance will be deposited in their respective bank accounts.