Almatti dam water released, may ease Maharashtra flood woes

Mumbai: Army personnel carry out rescue operations in the flood hit areas of Maharashtra, on Aug 9, 2019.

Mumbai,  The grim flood situation in south-west Maharashtra that left at least 37 people dead, is expected to ease with the Karnataka government releasing around 480,000 cusecs of water from Almatti dam on Friday, an official said here.

The Maharashtra government had made several pleas to the Centre and Karnataka for release of Almatti dam waters to help ease the flood situation in Sangli, Kolhapur, Satara and the surroundings that have been lashed by incessant rains since the past over one week.

“Karnataka Chief Minister B.S.Yediurappa informed Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis today that the water discharged from Almatti dam has been increased to 480,000 cusecs,” said an official.

Maharashtra had demanded release of at least 500,000 cusecs water from Karnataka to mitigate the flood situation in the state, where over 2.85 lakh people have been displaced and massive rescue efforts by multiple state and central agencies are underway.

Senior Congress leader Nana Patole attacked Fadnavis for mishandling the crisis and for the delay in taking up the issue of Almatti dam water release with his Karnataka counterpart.

“If the CM had taken up the issue of Almatti dam water release well in time with the Karnataka CM, the flood situation in Maharashtra would not have been so severe nor would have so many lives been lost and lakhs displaced,” Patole said.

Referring to Fadnavis’ statement that “a national calamity” would be declared at an appropriate time, Patole asked: “Has he not seen the colossal tragedy and loss of lives with his own eyes? What ‘muhurat’ is the CM waiting for to declare this a national crisis?”

In another development, Kolhapur Collector Daulatrao Desai informed that the water level in the overflowing Panchganga dam had receded by two feet, which would improve the flood situation in the region.

“So far, we have evacuated 1,11,365 people or 23,889 families from 239 villages and rescued 24 stuck in Chandgad. We have also received 69 tonnes petrol and 31 tonnes diesel, which is being used for the vehicles or boats engaged in the rescue efforts. More will be procured by air if needed,” Desai said.

In New Delhi, Union Minister of State for Home Nityanand Rai reviewed the flood situation in different parts of the country, including Maharashtra, said an official.

The meeting assumes significance against the backdrop of the India Metrological Department (IMD) warning that besides Maharashtra, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan are expected to get heavy rain in the next 24 hours.

The National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) informed Rai that 83 teams have been deployed in flood-hit ares of the four affected states, besides 173 teams of Indian Army, Navy, Air Dorce and Coast Guard.

Earlier, Konkan Divisional Commissioner Deepak Mhaiskar informed that out of the 30 casualties in Maharashtra, the highest — 12 persons — perished in Sangli, 4 in Kolhapur, 7 in Satara, 6 in Pune and one in Solapur in various flood-related incidents. The NDRF recovered 7 more bodies on Friday.

At least four-five persons are still missing from Thursday’s boat tragedy in Brahmnal village in Sangli where a Gram Panchayat’s overloaded rescue boat capsized, drowning 12 persons.

With overnight rains subsiding, the waters have started receding in some parts of the worst-hit localities giving relief to the residents and rescuers, though the IMD has issued red alert for heavy rains in Pune, Sangli, and Kolhapur over the next couple of days.

Another 12 Indian Navy teams left reached Sangli by road on Friday to join the rescue efforts.

After conducting an aerial survey on Thursday, Fadnavis had said that an estimated 29,000 people still remain marooned in flood waters in these districts.

The floods have also had a fallout in urban centres like Mumbai, Thane, Pune and other cities, which are now witnessing shortage of essentials such as milk, fruits and vegetables.

The prices of several items have shot up with ginger selling above Rs 325 per kg, coriander priced at nearly Rs 400/bunch, tomatoes selling between Rs 70-100/kg and chillies priced for Rs 300/kg.

Urban business centres like Mumbai and Thane (city) are completely dependent on the adjoining districts of Thane, Palghar, Nashik for vegetables and Ahmednagar, Satara, Sangli, Kolhapur for supply of fresh fruits and milk.

However, with areas cut-off, the flow of these items to Mumbai has been erratic creating problems for transporters and the urban consumers alike.

Alternative arrangements are being made for milk from Gujarat and vegetable supplies are being augmented from Palghar, Thane and surroundings.