Heavy rains in north and central Gujarat claimed more lives on Wednesday, taking the total toll in the state to at least 27 since Tuesday. Banaskantha, Patan and Mehsana districts are the worst-affected, besides Kutch. Banaskantha alone reported nine more deaths on Wednesday. As rains eased off a bit, three helicopters from Indian Air Force (IAF) and Border Security Force (BSF), along with 15 teams — comprising 510 trained NDRF personnel and 180 jawans of the BSF — conducted relief and rescue operations in north Gujarat where hundreds of villages remained marooned due to large-scale flooding. Seven columns of the Indian Army have also been sent to Banaskantha.
The NDRF teams, with 57 rubber boats, have been deployed at various flood-affected parts of the state, like Suigam (one team), Deesa (two teams), Hahara (one team), Banaskantha (two teams), Bhuj (one team) and Ahmedabad (four teams). Further two teams of NDRF are being airlifted from Bhisinia airfields to Gandhinagar and two teams from Pune airport to Ahmedabad.
So far, NDRF teams have evacuated 283 persons (including 111 persons at Varun village and 87 persons at Chatara village) from affected areas of Banaskantha district to safer place, stated an official release. Among those rescued include 24 people stranded inside a GSRTC bus near Shankeshwar in Patan district where rising flood waters had submerged the bus. Those stranded were airlifted.
Two helicopters from the Indian Air Force and one from Border Security Force are being deployed. They have been rescuing people from 21 marooned villages in Banaskantha. Apart from this, 24 mobile medical teams have left for flood-affected areas in north Gujarat and distributed more than four lakh food packets.
In Dantiwada area of Banaskantha, 180 jawans of the Border Security Force are engaged in rescue and relief, while two columns of the Indian Army from Dhangadhra and five columns from Gandhianagar have been sent to flood-affected areas. This is in addition to the five companies of the State Reserve Police Force (SRPF) which has already been deployed in these areas.
In the last three days, all talukas of Kutch and Banaskantha district recorded over 100 per cent annual rainfall. Some areas, like Suigam, recorded 510 per cent of the total annual rainfall for the area. Flooding caused by heavy rains in Sabarkantha district led Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation to release 10,000 cusecs from Dharoi dam on the Sabarmati river, which originates in the Sabarkantha district. Water was discharged to around 35 villages in the downstream toward Dholka and other talukas. Of them, 21 villages are in Dholka, three in Dholera and Daskroi talukas. Ahmedabad District Collector R K Beniwal said around 1,700 persons from 29 villages had been moved to safer places in the district. He said these villages were issued alert in the wake of the ongoing release of 1.5 lakh cusecs water from Vasna Barrage on Wednesday. Ahmedabad’s Deputy Municipal Commissioner I K Patel told reporters on Wednesday that if need be residents of some villages would be evacuated to safer places. “At current level of water coming from Dharoi dam, there will be no need for shifting people to safer places, but still the administration is prepared to tackle the situation,” he said. Members of the general public have been advised not to go to the Sabarmati Riverfront promenades due to speedy flow of water.
Areas in the Ahmedabad city that can face difficult situation and water-logging include Paldi, Sabarmati, Vadaj, Paldi, Vasna, Juhapura, Hansol, Shahpur and Khanpur if discharge goes to 2.5 lakh to 3 lakh cusecs.
Sabarkantha District Collector P Swaroop said no one died in rain or flooding, but around 70 persons in Khedbrahma taluka were marooned and had to be rescued. “Rain has stopped since afternoon and there is no major problem as of now except for the overflowing of a causeway connecting a village,” he said. In Mehsana, as many as 585 villages had been reeling without electricity supply and water for over 24 hours.
The Minister of State for Home Affairs, Haribhai Parathibhai Chaudhary, discussed the flood situation of Gujarat with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh. Chaudhary asked for maximum Central assistance, including rescue teams for flood-affected areas of Gujarat, stated a release from the Press Information Bureau. On Wednesday, Chief Minister Anandiben Patel visited flood-affected areas of Banaskantha, Mehsana and Patan districts by road and took stock of the situation. In Mehsana — home district of the CM which is currently the centre of agitation by Patidars who are demanding OBC status — as many as 585 villages went without electricity for over 24 hours.
According to an official release by the state information department, the CM had instructed to restore power supply by Wednesday night and asked to press tankers services in action for supplying drinking water. With north Gujarat receiving 70 per cent of its average rainfall during the last three days, as many as 815 people from six villages of Mehsana district have taken shelter in primary schools.
Meanwhile, the deep depression over south-west Rajasthan and adjoining Gujarat remained practically stationary during the past six hours at 2.30 pm on Wednesday, stated the Indian Meteorological Department. The system is expected to move slowly north-west and weaken gradually. While rains took a break in Vadodara and Narmada districts of south Gujarat, heavy showers in Anand and Kheda districts of central part of the state resulted in the overflowing Wanakbori dam, located on the Mahisagar river in Kheda district. The district authorities have issued alerts for several villages as water level in the dam continues to rise.
On Wednesday, the bridge connecting Desar taluka to Ganteshwar in Vadodara was closed to traffic after water from the Mahisagar river began flowing over a part of the bridge. The local mamlatdar of Desar issued warnings to locals to stay away from the bridge. Mahisagar river has swollen after 16 gates of Kadana dam in the Panchmahals began releasing two lakh cusecs. On Wednesday, the Kadana dam was overflowing at 124.92 metres, receiving almost 1,000 cusecs inflow.
In Kheda, the overflowing Wanakbori dam released about 50,000 cusecs into the Mahisagar river, with several villages in Thasra and Aklacha talukas being put on high alert. Continuing showers have brought about 337mm rain in Kheda in the last 24 hours, while Anand has received 331 mm of rain. With reports of trees falling due to strong winds, several villages in Kheda have been without power. Several low-lying areas of Nadiad city have also witnessed water-logging, throwing normal life out of gear.
A steady inflow of water into the Sardar Sarovar Dam has seen water level rise to 121.68 metres, just a few centimeters short of overflow. With SSNNL officials issuing alert about the expected overflow by Wednesday night as the dam breaches the 121.92 mark, Vadodara Collector Avantika Singh Aulakh alerted villages in Karjan along the Narmada banks. Aulakh told The Indian Express, “As of now, we do not have any villages marooned or flooded in the jurisdiction of Vadodara district. Although the release from Kadana and Wanakbori dams has risen, the levels in Mahisagar river, affecting Kheda and Anand, the Vadodara side of the river bank is on a slightly higher levels. We have, however, issued alert in Karjan to villages situated along the banks of Narmada as the dam is expected to see overflow by tonight. Right now, we are not evacuating any villages.” SSNNL officials said the the total inflow into the Narmada dam stood at 10,5,739 cusecs on Wednesday evening.
Sarbananda Sonowal, Union Minister of State for Youth Affairs and Sports, has ordered the Nehru Yuva Kendra Sangathan and NSS to move their volunteer teams for relief and rescue operations at Banaskantha, Mehsana, Kutch and neighbouring affected areas to assist in evacuation. These teams will coordinate their efforts with Gujarat State Disaster control room, said Maj Gen Dilawar Singh, director general, Nehru YUVA Kendra Sangathan.