An aerial survey of Banas river in Banaskantha district of Gujarat will be conducted on Thursday to search for those who would have got washed away in floodwaters. So far a total of 111 people have died in rain-related incidents in the state this monsoon which includes 29 bodies that were found on Wednesday.
Describing the situation as “unprecedented”, state government officials said the administration has evacuated a total of 53004 persons and saved 1930 others amid the rain fury between July 21-26. “We have done everything possible,” said Bhupendrasinh Chudasma, revenue minister who apprised media persons of the flood situation in the state.
“We are extremely saddened by this tragedy and will do everything possible to reach out to the surviving family members in the village of Banaskantha district. On Tuesday we had rescued 700 people from Kankrej taluka and till Wednesday evening we have rescued an additional 459 persons,” he added.
The maximum number of deaths have been clocked in Banaskantha district, where 28 persons have died in the last three days since July 4. “There has been an unprecedented inflow of water due to heavy rains in Rel, Sipu and Banas rivers of North Gujarat… Going by the past experience where we have recovered bodies from Banas river, we will conducting an aerial survey of the entire Banas river that will span from Deesa till the mouth of the river (that opens in Little Rann of Kutch). If we find bodies, we will tagging them using the GPS system and further action will be initiated,” said Pankaj Kumar, Principal Secretary, Revenue department who has been overlooking the rescue and relief activities.
The state government is also planning to bring in divers from the Indian Navy for assistance in flooded regions of Banaskantha. “These ivers from Mumbai, will come via Porbandar,” Kumar added. Talking about the 111 rain-related deaths in Gujarat, the government official said only 58 have drowned in flood-waters. The rest have died due to lighting (33 deaths), electrocution (6) and other reasons like wall or house collapse (14), he added.
A total of 488 villages are without electricity. A maximum of these villages are in Tharad (115 villages) and Dhanera (70) talukas of Banaskantha district. Flood waters have also forced closure of 832 roads, which includes five national highways, and 27 state highways. Since Tuesday three lakh food packets have been dropped in Banaskantha, while an additional 18000 food packets dropped in neighbouring Patan district.
“This is one of the largest deployment undertaken,” Kumar said while describing how teams of NDRF, IAF, Army, BSF, SDRF and other agencies engaged in rescue activities. Apart from human casualties, over 1089 animals have also perished in the floodwaters, which includes those in Jamnagar (307 animals), Kutch (250) and Banaskantha (166). When asked about the estimated loss due to floods, revenue minister Chudasma said that a central team will be arriving soon to review the losses to agriculture, damage to roads and other infrastructure. State government officials also said with rain-situation easing on Wednesday, sanitary teams from different municipal corporations including from Surat will be rushed to Banaskantha district to ensure cleanliness and sanitation.