Just months after a crippling drought in the state, Maharashtra is now grappling with a severe flood situation, especially in its western districts. Over 1.32 lakh people have been shifted to safer places in western Maharashtra with flood waters inundating several towns and villages on Wednesday following incessant rains. Fourteen people drowned after a boat engaged in rescue work overturned in a
water body in Sangli, which is one of the worst-affected district in the state.
On Wednesday, Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis cancelled his "Maha Jan Aadesh Yatra", a month-long outreach programme ahead of elections in the state. He held a meeting in Mumbai to review the flood situation along with senior ministers like Eknath Shinde, Ramdas Kadam, Girish Mahajan and Chandrakant Patil. He will undertake a survey of flood affected areas today.
Sixteen deaths in rain-and-flood-related incidents have been reported from western Maharashtra so far in the last seven days, news agency PTI reported. Along with the situation in Maharashtra, the Chief Minister also had to deal with complaints from his counterpart in Karnataka over the release of excess water from the Koyna Dam in western Maharashtra.
Karnataka Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa wrote to Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis to intervene. Mr Fadnavis and Mr Yediyurappa also spoke on the telephone to resolve the issue. While Mr Yediyurappa raised the concerns about the districts of Belagavi, Vijayapura, Raichur, Kalburgi and Yadgir, Mr Fadnavis requested an early discharge from the Almatti Dam, to ease the situation in Kolhapur.
"There is a lot of rain in the catchment areas and we have had to discharge water and in Nashik, the discharge has broken the records of the last fifty years. Whether it's the discharge of Koyna or Ujni, it has broken all records because of the heavy rain," Mr Fadnavis told reporters in Mumbai.
"In Nashik we have 105 per cent of the average rainfall and the rainfall of four months has come in 15 days and that's why it is flooding. To overcome this situation, we have taken the help of the NDRF, help has been sought from the army, navy and air force," the Maharashtra Chief Minister added.
In Sangli and Kolhapur districts, over 53,000 and 51,000 people were evacuated, respectively. The temple town of Solapur has also been affected and In Solapur district, 2,500 people have been moved to safer places. "Along with all rescue operations in flood affected areas of Maharashtra using all possible forces & efforts, we've also decided to increase compensation from Rs 2,500-Rs 5000 to Rs 10,000-Rs 15,000 for flood-affected persons," the Chief Minister tweeted.
Several teams of the army, navy, air force and the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) are conducting rescue operations in both the districts, and six more NDRF teams have been airlifted to help tackle the flood situation. Fourteen teams of the Navy have been sent to the flood affected areas of Kolhapur and Sangli districts to evacuate people from affected areas.
In Pune district, over 1,300 people have been rescued while in Satara district, flood waters have inundated Mahabaleshwar, Wai and Karad with 6,000 people being evacuated so far. Former Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan has been camping in his hometown Karad to oversee rescue and relief operations.
"All the dams in the region are overflowing and the Meteorological department has predicted continuous rains for the next three to four days especially in the catchment areas of inter-state rivers. This means the possibility of more floods cannot be ruled out," a senior official present at the meeting added.
342 bridges are underwater and have been closed for vehicles while around 30 state highways and 56 roads have been shut to prevent accidents. The Mumbai-Bengaluru National Highway has also seen flood waters rising in several stretches.
The opposition in Maharashtra has hit out at the government for what it calls a delayed response. Targeting the Chief Minister for being busy campaigning while parts of the state were submerged, Nationalist Congress Party Chief Sharad Pawar said, "In this situation he should have taken a call immediately. He is the Chief Minister. The responsibility for administration rests on his shoulders. If the Chief Minister, who is entrusted for taking decisions for the people had paid attention to this on time then perhaps the people who have suffered losses they would had relief from this."
All schools and colleges will remain closed in Kolhapur district tomorrow due to flood following heavy rainfall in the region. All schools and colleges will remain closed tomorrow in three tehsils of Pune district and in five tehsils of Sangli district, district officials said.
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