Maha rains: Death toll rises to 164, Ajit Pawar tours flood-hit villages
The death toll in rain-related incidents in Maharashtra rose to 164 on Monday after the recovery of 11 more bodies in Raigad and two each in Wardha and Akola, the state government said, while Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar toured flood-hit villages in Sangli district and said a decision on providing financial relief will be taken in a couple of days.
As many as 100 people were still missing and so far, 2,29,074 persons have been evacuated from the flood and rain-affected affected areas and moved to safer places, the government said in a statement in Mumbai.
The administration of Raigad, the worst-hit district located in the coastal Konkan region, on Monday called off the search operations for 31 missing people in Taliye village which was ravaged by a massive landslide after heavy rains last week, an official said.
Besides, 56 people have been injured in rain-related incidents, it said.
So far, 53 people have died in Taliye village and five are injured, while 31 people are still missing and they will be declared dead following the due process, Raigad district Collector Nidhi Chaudhari said.
The collector said the decision to call of the search operations was taken after seeking opinion of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) and the disaster response forces of the state and neighbouring Thane district.
''The rescue operations have ended officially. We have withdrawn our teams from Taliye. The 31 missing will be declared dead following the due process...relatives of the missing people demanded closure of the operations since yesterday,'' the collector said.
Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray visited the village on Saturday and said as landslides proved fatal in many parts of the state, the government would come up with a plan to permanently relocate people living in hilly areas.
A decision on providing relief to the people affected by floods will be taken in the next couple of days, Deputy CM Ajit Pawar said after he toured various rain-hit villages in Sangli district and used a rescue boat to reach out to victims in some areas on Monday.
He interacted with the flood-affected people and assured them of rehabilitation and help from the state government.
''The Maha Vikas Aghadi government will provide all possible help to those who have been affected by floods. I, cabinet ministers Jayant Patil, Vijay Wadettiwar, and minister of state Vishwajeet Kadam visited the flood-affected areas in the Sangli district and took stock of the situation.
''In the next two days, a final decision about (the relief) will be taken in the presence of Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray,'' Pawar, who also holds the Finance portfolio, told a press conference.
Water Resources Minister Jayant Patil, Relief and Rehabilitation Minister Vijay Wadettiwar and Minister of State Vishwajeet Kadam accompanied Pawar during his visit to the flood-battered Bhilwadi and other areas of the district. They used a boat to reach out to people affected by the monsoon mayhem in Bhilwadi.
Pawar later told reporters that ''unprecedented'' rains triggered floods in districts in Western Maharashtra.
''When heavy rains started after July 22, there was enough storage capacity in dams in the Krishna river basin but heavy downpour in the pre-catchment areas of dams caused floods downstream,'' he said.
Pawar described the pre-catchment area of the dam as the area ahead of the dam's wall. He added that since its construction, the Koyna dam never received such a huge influx of water.
Pawar said the work to assess losses caused due to floods is still not completed.
''Real picture about the damage caused to crops and farms will emerge after the water recedes. I have instructed the district administration to continue with the assessment of losses at new places,'' he added.
Speaking about landslides, Pawar said such incidents were reported from the areas that were not prone to landslips.
''To avoid flooding in the future, emphasis will be given on strengthening the flood management system. I have received some suggestions to have SDRF (State Disaster Response Force) centres in flood-prone districts so that when such a situation arises, these groups can be pressed into action instead of waiting for help from agencies like the NDRF, Army, Coast Guard and Navy,'' he said.
Asked whether the current flood situation in western Maharashtra is a ''man-made'' crisis, Pawar dismissed such contention, saying ''unprecedented'' rainfall in ''pre-catchment'' areas of dams led to the scenario.
Pawar reiterated the state government was willing to rehabilitate people who often get affected by floods in hilly areas.
He asked the Sangli district administration to conduct a survey of such houses and also check the land availability for rehabilitation.
The state government on Sunday said it provided an emergency financial aid of Rs 2 crore each to Raigad and Ratnagiri districts. Satara, Sangli, Pune, Kolhapur, Thane and Sindhudurg, also affected by rains, were provided with a financial aid of Rs 50 lakh each.
Chief Minister Thackeray on Sunday visited Chiplun, the site of severe flooding in Ratnagiri district in the Konkan region, and interacted with residents, businessmen and shopkeepers. He promised them all help from the state government.
Heavy rains last week caused massive floods and landslides in large parts of Maharashtra, especially in the Konkan and Western Maharashtra regions. On Monday, the chief minister was scheduled to visit flood-hit Patan taluka in Satara district, but had to cancel the tour due to rough weather, an official said.
He was also scheduled to meet the affected people at a shelter camp set up at a zilla parishad school in Koynanagar.
An official in the Chief Minister's Office said Thackeray's tour was cancelled due to ''inclement weather''.
Meanwhile, four days after suspension of train traffic on some routes near Mumbai due to heavy rains, all rail lines in the Thal and Bhor Ghat areas of neighbouring Thane, Nashik and Pune were restored on Monday morning, a Central Railway (CR) spokesperson said in the state capital.
The CR had suspended traffic at the Thal Ghat, which is also known as the Kasara Ghat, from 10.15 pm on July 21, while traffic at the Bhor ghat, popularly called the Khandala Ghat, was suspended at 12.30 am on July 22, following heavy rains, landslides, tree falls and mudslides at multiple locations.
(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)