Over 1.32 lakh people have been shifted to safer places in Western Maharashtra with the flood situation remaining especially grim in Kolhapur and Sangli districts of the region on Wednesday (August 7) following heavy rains.
Sixteen deaths in rain and flood-related incidents have been reported from western Maharashtra in the last seven days, officials said. In Kolhapur, water entered the collector’s office, while the State Transport bus stand in Sangli was flooded. The road connectivity was severely hit between two district.
“In Pune region (comprising districts of Pune, Satara, Solapur, Sangli, and Kolhapur), so far 1.32 lakh people have been evacuated to safer places,” said Dr Deepak Mhaisekar, divisional commissioner, Pune.
In Sangli and Kolhapur, over 53,000 and 51,000 people were evacuated, respectively, followed by 13,000 in Pune district. “The road communication between Sangli and Kolhapur and between Kolhapur and Belgaum (in Karnataka) has been affected,” said Mhaisekar, adding that people should avoid traveling on the Mumbai-Bengaluru national highway (NH 4).
In Solapur district, 2,500 people were moved to safer places in the temple town of Pandharpur after the discharge of water from the overflowing Ujani dam increased, he added. “Teams of Territorial Army, Navy, and National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) are conducting rescue operations in Kolhapur and Sangli and and six more NDRF teams will be airlifted to Kolhapur by Wednesday evening,” he said.
“All the dams in the region are overflowing and the Met department has predicted continuous rains for the next three to four days. So, if the catchment areas of dams receive more rain, possibility of more floods can not be ruled out,” Mhaisekar added.
In Satara, the flood situation was grim in Wai, Karad, and Mahabaleshwar and 6,000 people were evacuated.
Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis reviewed the flood situation at a meeting in Mumbai. He told reporters later that the state received 104 pc of average rain during June-August period, most of it in western Maharashtra and Konkan.
In Kolhapur district, 204 out of total 1,234 villages have been affected due to the floods, resident deputy collector Sanjay Shinde said. “342 bridges have gone underwater and are closed for vehicles. Twenty-nine state highways and 56 roads have also been shut. NH 4 and Kolhapur-Ratnagiri highway (part of Mumbai-Goa highway) are closed,” he said.
Over 45 boats have been deployed for evacuation operations, he said. “My own office has been completely flooded. Several offices in the collectorate have been shifted,” he added.
Five teams of the Western Naval Command and four teams of divers from the naval base INS Hansa in Goa have been deployed for rescue operations in Kolhapur and other areas, a defence spokesperson said.
The Almatti dam in Karnataka, situated downstream on the Krishna river which flows through western Maharashtra, is full, and he has requested the chief minister of that state to increase discharge from the dam by 50,000 cusec, Fadnavis told reporters in Mumbai.
Mhaisekar said that, after the talks between the two CMs, the Karnataka government increased the discharge to 4 lakh cusec. “Yesterday, the inflow into Almatti dam was at 2.73 lakh cusec and the discharge 4 lakh cusec. Today, the inflow has increased to 3.62 lakh cusec but the discharge is at the same rate, so the dam is filling up,” he said.
The Krishna river is in spate, so the water from its two tributaries including the Panchganga (which flows through Kolhapur) is not flowing into the Krishna, creating the present flood situation, he added.
Open Narmada dam gates immediately: Protesters
Meanwhile, the administration on Wednesday urged the residents of villages in the submergence area of Sardar Sarovar Dam in four districts of Madhya Pradesh to move to safer areas. The dam, built across the Narmada river, is located in Gujarat.
Permanent rehabilitation sites and temporary tin sheds have been built outside the submergence area, he said. “We are constantly monitoring the rising level of the Narmada. We have called a team of National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) and also deployed motor-boats to evacuate people,” Tripathi said.
An official of the Narmada Valley Development Authority said that the Narmada has crossed the danger mark of 123.28 meters at Rajghat in Barwani district. The old bridge in the Rajghat village connecting Barwani and Dhar districts is under water, witnesses said.
Narmada Bachao Andolan leader Medha Patkar started an indefinite ‘Satyagraha’ (protest) in Rajghat, alleging that thousands of people who were displaced by the dam were neither rehabilitated nor paid any compensation. The protesters demanded that the doors of the dam be opened immediately so that the level of backwaters in Madhya Pradesh can go down and submergence can be averted.
Flood situation in Karnataka grim
At the same time, the flood situation in parts of Karnataka remained grim on Wednesday with nearly 26,000 people being evacuated and five people killed in rain-related incidents in the past three days, official sources said.
The situation continued to remain grim as the floodgates were opened in the dams in neighbouring Maharashtra and barrages and reservoirs in Karnataka, where road and rail links remain hit following incessant monsoon rains.
Government schools in Belagavi turned into rehabilitation centres where the flood-hit people shared their rooms with the livestock. The swollen Bhadra river completely submerged the Hebbale bridge that connects Horanadu.