Updated: July 26, 2021 2:22:16 pm
With the Maharashtra government pegging the death toll due to heavy rains in the Konkan region and western parts of the state at 149, including 37 deaths recorded on Sunday, Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray said that a relief package will be announced soon — and a separate force on the lines of the NDRF will be set up in vulnerable districts to ensure a quicker response during natural disasters.
Speaking to reporters after a review meeting at Chiplun in Raigad district, Thackeray said: “The government will do everything to make them (those affected) stand on their feet. The assistance such as food, clothes, medicines and others will be provided to flood-affected people immediately. The district administration has been instructed that technical issues should not come in the way of providing assistance.”
Union Minister Narayan Rane, however, expressed concern over what he alleged was the “lackadaisical approach” of the state government. “Where is the state government? Where are the state and district officials? People are helpless. But there is no help from the state administration,” Rane said after a visit to Taliye village in Raigad, where 49 people were killed in landslides.
Rane’s visit came a day after Thackeray had visited the village. On Sunday, the Chief Minister reached Chiplun in Ratnagiri, where he interacted with traders who stopped his convoy and later held a meeting with the district administration.
According to the state government’s control room, Raigad has recorded the highest death toll with 60 so far followed by 41 in Satara. While 100 people are still reported missing, 50 others sustained injuries on Sunday evening.
The government said that rescue teams have evacuated 2,29,074 people so far with the highest number of 1,69,968 rescued from Sangli followed by 40,882 from Kolhapur. At present, it said, 25 rescue teams of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), four of State Disaster Response Force (SDRF), five of the Navy, three of the Army and two of the Coast Guard are engaged in rescue operations in the state.
Besides, 3,248 animal deaths have been reported so far in the affected districts and 17,300 poultry deaths in Sangli district alone.
The Chief Minister said he would announce a relief package after conducting a complete review of the flood-affected districts. “I will not announce a relief package for the sake of popularity or to make someone feel better. I will visit areas in western Maharashtra tomorrow to review the damage. A complete review of all districts, such as Raigad, Ratnagiri, Sindhudurg, Satara, Sangli and Kolhapur, will be taken in the next few days and the relief package will be announced,” he said.
Thackeray said his government will put in place a flood control system to tackle such incidents better. “Considering the repeated incidents of such natural disasters, a system on the lines of the NDRF will be created in all these districts. So that they can carry out relief and rescue operations before the NRDF or other agencies reach for assistance. Also, the State Disaster Response Force (SDRF) will be strengthened,” he said.
He said the Centre is providing assistance to the state and has assured all possible help. “After completion of the review, the government will seek assistance from the Centre based on the damage caused,” he said.
Rane, however, slammed the state government for not extending immediate financial assistance. “The state has a huge budget of Rs 4.5 lakh crore. In any case, the Centre would have compensated later, as it is normal practice…If the Centre has to do everything, why have a government in Maharashtra? Hand over the state government to the Centre,” he said.
The Union Minister for MSMEs, who was accompanied by Leader of Opposition in the State Assembly Devendra Fadnavis and Council Pravin Darekar, also visited Chiplun.
“Prime Minister Narendra Modi has asked me to tour the flood-affected Konkan and submit a report…We will consider accommodating the families, who lost homes due to the floods, under Prime Minister Awas Yojna,” Rane said.
Meanwhile, Thackeray said in a statement that he has decided not to celebrate his birthday on July 27 in the wake of the floods, and urged people not to put up any hoardings or posters or gather to meet him in person. He said there should not be any public function to mark the occasion and appealed for people to contribute to the Chief Minister’s relief fund to help those affected by floods and the pandemic.
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