Seven days after it was closed due to heavy rain and resultant flooding in Kolhapur district, the Mumbai-Bangalore National Highway opened for traffic on Monday in a phased manner. While initially only trucks carrying essential commodities were allowed to ply, the road was opened for other trucks and cars later in the day.
The authorities had initially planned to open the highway on Sunday, when rain eased up and water levels receded.
But when police checked a stretch near Shirol at Kolhapur, one of the many flooded spots in the district, they found that it was still unfit for traffic.
Last week, police and local administration had decided to close the highway for traffic after overflowing rivers flooded the region.
Uneven rainfall across India
On Monday, the all India (single day) rainfall equalled the normal for the first time this season, but the temporal distribution of rainfall this year remains highly erratic.While on one hand, states like Maharashtra (+32 per cent) , Gujarat (+25 pc ), Karnataka (+20 per cent) and Sikkim (+25 per cent) have recorded excess rainfall, on the other hand, Delhi (-40 per cent), Jharkhand (-35 per cent), West Bengal (-30 per cent), Nagaland (-21 per cent) and Manipur (-68 per cent) remain highly rain-deficient.
On three points between Karad and Kolhapur, the water levels had crossed the danger mark. Police issued an advisory, asking people not to travel on the highway and, in case they were already on the highway, to stop before Kolhapur. Thousands of heavy vehicles were stopped on the service road before the closure points, about 15,000 of which came up on the highway in six days.
Tirupati Kakde, Kolhapur district’s additional superintendent of police, said, “After an assessment on Monday morning by all the agencies involved, the highway was finally opened for trucks carrying fuel, medicines, milk, vegetables and other essential supplies for flood-hit areas. The water level at some points on the road was still over one foot, but it had started receding.”
Sanjay Shinde, resident district collector of Kolhapur, said, “On Monday afternoon. we started allowing trucks, which were stopped on the highway, to ply, and later cars were also allowed. But we are still not allowing two-wheelers on the highway… we may allow them from Tuesday.”
It will take at least one more day for vehicles, lined up on the highway after being halted at various points, to be cleared, said officials.