As the flood situation turned grim in Kolhapur and surrounding areas in Maharashtra, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis sought the help of Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and Karnataka Chief Minster B S Yediyurappa, officials said in Mumbai yesterday.
Fadnavis urged Singh to help co-ordinate and speed up flood rescue and relief efforts through agencies like the National Disaster Response Force, the army, the air force, the coast guard and others in the worst-hit Kolhapur and Sangli districts.
Earlier, he also spoke with his Karnataka counterpart Yediyurappa and urged him to discharge water from the Almatti Dam which can ease the situation for Maharashtra. He has been assured of a positive action, said an official from the Maharashtra chief minister’s office (CMO).
Fadnavis, currently in Yavatmal district, reviewed the flood situation in the state’s western and southern parts, and discussed the issue with Chief Secretary Ajoy Mehta.
Kolhapur, Sangli, Satara and the surroundings have been lashed with heavy rains virtually non-stop since the past five days leading to water-logging and a flood-like situation in many cities, towns and villages.
Deputy Collector of Kolhapur Sanjay Shinde said over 9,000 people from the district have been evacuated and shifted to safer locations.
“We are awaiting help from other specialised agencies. An IAF helicopter from Mumbai reached Kolhapur this afternoon, but could not land due to heavy rain, poor visibility and strong winds, and hence returned. We expect it to return tomorrow,” Shinde told IANS.
Disaster management authorities said another 10,000 people have been rescued to safer locations from Pune, Sangli and Satara and more evacuation operations were in progress.
Officials estimate over 50,000 people may be directly or indirectly hit by the floods in urban and rural centres in these districts as rains continued to batter the region.
A coast guard spokesman in Mumbai said that rescue operations were underway in Kolhapur, Sangli and Karnataka’s Dharwad district.
A coast guard helicopter is currently rescuing people in the inundated area of Kolhapur, while teams with rubber boats have been sent to evacuate people from submerged areas of Kumata and Kaiga in Karnataka.
According to the latest reports, the Panchganga River is flowing above danger levels, while electricity generation had to be stopped temporarily at the overflowing Radhanagari Dam.
Thousands of people in several villages in Shirol, Hatkanangale, Chikhali and Ambewadi have been severely hit besides the erstwhile royal city of Kolhapur, and normal life completely paralysed as incessant rains continued yesterday.
Two teams of the NDRF are co-ordinating rescue, shifting of marooned people from various areas, while the army, navy, air force and coast guard are also helping with helicopters and experts.
So far, more than 20,000 people have been evacuated from some of the affected regions of the four districts of Pune, Satara, Kolhapur, Sangli and moved to safer locations.
An NDRF team has been deployed in Sangli and another is en route to help in the rescue operations. The state government sent six more teams and navy boats to Kolhapur yesterday, while four boats of the NDRF were sent from Pune to Sangli.
The busy Pune-Bengaluru highway has been shut as a precautionary measure.
Pune’s Divisional Commissioner Deepak Mhaiskar said four of the five western Maharashtra districts – Pune, Kolhapur, Sangli, Satara – have already received more than 100% of the season’s total rainfall.
However, the fifth district in the division, the parched Solapur lagged behind, getting only 78% rain so far and its main reservoir, the Ujani Dam has received barely 50% water so far.
In the past 24 hours, the highest rainfall of 40cm was recorded in the temple town of Trimbakeshwar in Nashik district, followed by the state’s popular hill station of Mahalabeshwar in Satara at 38cm.
Minor landslides and boulder crashes in south-eastern parts of the Western Ghats forced the Central Railway to cancel or divert several trains bound for South Indian destinations.