Amid a debate over the likely causes of floods in many areas in Maharashtra, NCP chief Sharad Pawar on Tuesday said various structures had been constructed inside the flood lines of most of the rivers in the state and hoped for a policy decision by the state government, in which his party is one of the constituents.
Heavy rains last week caused massive floods and landslides in large parts of Maharashtra, especially in the coastal Konkan and Western Maharashtra regions, killing 207 people as of Tuesday, as per the state government.
"It is the fact that various constructions are made inside the flood lines of most of the rivers in Maharashtra. The state government will have to take some decision regarding the same," Pawar told reporters.
A flood line is an indicative line that refers to the maximum level likely to be reached by a flooded river.
As the flood line is an average of the last 100 years of recorded floods, many times residential or commercial constructions are allowed in the flood-prone areas or such constructions are regularised by authorities.
Mr Pawar also said that the felling of trees was one of the reasons behind villages getting submerged due to heavy rainfall.
Responding to question related to encroachment by humans on the environment and its impact, the former Union agriculture minister said, "the (rampant) cutting of trees is also a reason behind such natural calamities. In the absence of trees, the water now flows directly towards the base of mountains, and villages located there have to pay a heavy price. The state will have to think about it."
Mr Pawar said unprecedented rainfall in the last 100 years was recorded recently near Koyna (dam). "Obviously, it will cost dearly (in terms of damage and deluge)," he added.
When asked whether the Maharashtra government is considering construction of walls along the river banks to prevent floodwaters from entering villages and towns, Mr Pawar said, "As per my information, Maharashtra chief minister has chaired a meeting regarding whether some villages can be relocated to safer places. But such policies have limited success as people are reluctant to relocate to a distant place".
Maharashtra has the experience to deal with natural calamities, he said referring to the Killari earthquake of 1993 when he was chief minister of the state.
Interestingly, Maharashtra Deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar, nephew of Sharad Pawar, on Monday dismissed the argument that the current flood situation in western Maharashtra could be a "man-made" crisis.
He had blamed "unprecedented" rainfall in "free catchment" areas of dams for the deluge at many places.
"The green cover has not reduced in the areas where the landslide and flooding have taken place. It is being talked about that due to the high tree cutting activities, the incidents of landslides are taking place but there is no truth. The green cover has not been reduced. In Satara, uprooted trees, mud and sludge came down during landslides," he had said.
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