Twenty three persons are feared dead after a dam in Maharashtra’s coastal Konkan region breached following incessant rains leading to flood-like situation in downstream villages, officials said on Wednesday (July 3).
Bodies of 11 persons have been recovered so far, a police official said. The total toll would be 23, he added. The Tiware dam in Ratnagiri district developed a breach late Tuesday (July 2) night after heavy rains, a district official said.
It has a storage capacity of 20 lakh cubic metres. A local police official said that six dead bodies have been recovered so far while 19 people are still missing. The dam breach caused a flood-like situation in seven downstream villages, with as many as 12 houses being swept away.
“So far, 11 bodies have been recovered,” said Additional Superintendent of Police, Ratnagiri, Vishal Gaikwad. “Police have moved the villagers to safer places. The situation is under control now,” he added. Relatives of the victims said they had asked district administration to repair the dam as they had spotted cracks in November last year.
There was an issue over the jurisdiction of which tehsil Tiware dam falls in, as Chiplun and Dapoli tehsil offices had ignored the application of the villagers, said a family member of one of the dead. “It is only because of their negligence that we have seen this day,” he said.
“My parents, wife and child of one and a half year is missing. My brother, who had gone to bring his vehicle did not return,” he added. A search operation has been launched by the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) and state police personnel.
Another police officer said that rescue operations were hampered initially due to darkness and sudden influx of water. However, local public representatives alleged that the government neglected their pleas for maintenance of the dam. They claimed to have written to the administration about the cracks in the walls of the dam, but no action was taken.
Maharashtra Water Resources Minister Girish Mahajan said that villagers in the vicinity of the Tiware dam had complained earlier of cracks in the dam. “This dam was built 14 years ago. The state government will find out at which level there was negligence and necessary action will be taken accordingly,” he said. Homes of the villagers washed away will be constructed at safe places, he said. A compensation of ₹4 lakh will be given to the kin of each of the deceased person, he added.
Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis has ordered an inquiry into the incident. “Reasons for the breach will be probed and action would be taken against the guilty expeditiously,” the chief minister said. Fadnavis contacted the district administration and took stock of the relief and rescue operations, it stated.
Meanwhile, some locals claimed that officials of the irrigation department had visited the dam, which was filled to its capacity, recently over complaints that its walls had developed cracks.