Updated: July 24, 2021 11:30:13 pm
Goa on Friday was hit by intense rainfall and its worst floods in decades that submerged roads and bridges, damaged homes and property worth crores, and forced the evacuation of more than 400 people. Two trains were also derailed by a landslide and an overflowing river.
The India Meteorological Department had initially issued a red alert for extremely heavy rainfall on Thursday and an orange alert for Friday. By Friday afternoon, however, IMD upgraded the alert to red. It forecast heavy rainfall for the next three days.
Chief Minister Pramod Sawant said that the state was seeing flooding of this magnitude for the first time. No casualty was reported despite the vast destruction, he said, but added that a woman was suspected to have drowned in Dharbandora in South Goa.
“There has been a massive flood in Goa. It is like never before. There has been large-scale damage to people’s homes and agricultural land,” Sawant said on Friday.
Later on Friday evening, Sawant wrote in a tweet that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had “called to inquire about the safety and well-being of the people in the prevailing flooding situation in Goa due incessant rains”. The PM has assured full support and assistance to the state, Sawant wrote.
Hon’ble PM Shri @narendramodi ji called to inquire about the safety and well-being of the people in the prevailing flooding situation in Goa due incessant rains. The PM has assured full support and assistance to the State. @PMOIndia
— Dr. Pramod Sawant (@DrPramodPSawant) July 23, 2021
Flooding was reported in rivers across the state including the Mhadei (Mandovi), Chapora, Dudhsagar, Khandepar and Valvanti. Several villages across five talukas were affected by the flood waters — Sattari and Bicholim in North Goa and Dharbandora in South Goa were the worst-hit.
“Many people had to be evacuated because of the flooding. We have taken the help of the Navy and the port authorities too. We had to rescue some people using rescue boats. Our teams have been working since last night to move people to safety. The (400) evacuated people from the five talukas have been housed in government primary schools and we have made arrangements for their accommodation and food,” Sawant said.
The Chief Minister, who visited various flooded areas on Friday morning, said the damage to property has been worth crores of rupees and people have lost their homes. “The market in Usgaon is submerged. This kind of flooding was not even seen in 1982 (the last major flood in the state).” Nearly 700 homes in the state had been damaged, government officials said.
About 21 villages in Sattari taluka were flooded after incessant rain battered the areas. Goa Health Minister and Valpoi MLA Vishwajit Rane, who also visited the inundated parts of Sattari, said in a post on social media on Friday: “Directions have been issued to the Collectors to have the District Management team stationed at Sattari and Usgaon. Water has entered their houses causing a lot of damage…”
He also stated that after a discussion with Sawant, directions had been issued for the repair of bridges in Paikul, Pelavade, Ghoteli and other areas in Sattari where bridges had collapsed.
The State Directorate of Fire Services and Emergency Services that moved several people to safety in the inundated villages of Sattari through boats also reported that 30-40 cows from a Gaushala in the Nanus village of Sattari were missing after the shelter was submerged.
The state Public Works Department said on Friday that the “unprecedented flooding of Khandepar river” had led to the submergence of pumping stations at Opa water works that would restrict the water supply to the talukas of Ponda and Tiswadi including defence establishments, industrial establishments and the Goa Medical College from Saturday to Monday.
A passenger train from Mangaluru Junction to Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus (CSMT), carrying 345 passengers, got derailed between Dudhsagar and Sonaulim in South Goa at about 6:10 am after heavy rain and the overflowing of the Vashishti river between Chiplun and Kamathe in Maharashtra. The South Western Railway (SWR) said in a statement there has been no injury or death due the incident. The train was being pulled back to Kulem in South Goa.
Following the derailment on Friday, 15 other trains were cancelled, three partially cancelled, 16 were diverted and three others were short-terminated, the SWR stated.
On Friday evening, the SWR said in a statement that stranded passengers of Train No 01134 (Mangaluru Junction to CSMT), a special train to Trivandrum Central left Margao at 7 pm. “Stranded Passengers are given an option to board this train if they wish to return to their native. Few of the passengers have already boarded Amritsar – Kochuveli Express which left Madgaon at 2:40 pm today,” the SWR stated.
Another train, the Hazrat Nizamuddin- Vasco da Gama Express, carrying 887 passengers, was also stopped in its tracks between Caranzol and Dudhsagar owing to a landslide at 6:20 am. It was also being pulled back, to the Castle Rock station in Karnataka.
On Friday evening, the SWR said that efforts were on to clear the railway tracks to resume the train services hit by the landslide.
“Two Hitachi machines, about 50 labourers, are working hard at the spot of land slide to clear the mud, slush and boulders. Due to very heavy rainfall, there is further continuous accumulation of slush, boulders, mud from the area beside the track, making the clearing of debris a challenging task. Mud had also accumulated inside the derailed coach,” the SWR said in a statement. Night lighting arrangements have been made and safety protocols are being followed at the work site, the SWR said.
Arrangements to ferry the passengers of the Vasco da Gama train were made at Londa in Karnataka to Vasco da Gama, Belagavi and Hubballi by road. According to SWR, 107 passengers who had come to Londa station to board other trains were also stranded, since their trains were cancelled. The SWR arraged for dinner for these passengers as well.
IMD said that in the 24 hours until Friday morning, the rain guage station in Sanguem in South Goa had recorded maximum rainfall of 213 mm and that in Sanquelim in North Goa had recorded 178.2 mm rainfall. Six of the IMD’s 13 rain guage stations in Goa recorded rainfall of more than 100 mm in the state over 24 hours.
On Friday evening, the IMD warned about moderate to intense spells of rain in parts of the state and also stated that the expected impact could be possible mudslides in hilly areas, swelling of rivers, flooding, disruption of municipal services and collapse of weak structures.
Goa deputy chief minister and agriculture minister Chandrakant Kavlekar said that 832 hectares of agricultural land across the state was damaged by the flooding and the loss is estimated to be worth Rs 2.5 crore. Banana and rice plantations in several parts of north Goa were flattened by incessant rain.
The Indian Navy mobilised flood relief rescue efforts for Maharashtra, Karnataka and Goa. Naval Advanced Light Helicopter was lauched from Goa. It provided aerial support in rescue efforts in Karwar and a sortie was made to Ganjem near Ponda to check and verify receding water levels, a navy said in a statement. The Goa Coast Guard also carried out four helicopter sorties and dropped 200 food packets to people stranded in the floods.