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Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Maharashtra: A year after breach of Tiware dam washed away hamlet, 56 families wait on the long road to rehabilitation

Subsequently, a part of the dam wall was destroyed by the force of the water. The dam had undergone temporary repairs a few months prior to the incident.

Written by Sushant Kulkarni | Pune | Published: July 2, 2020 7:54:51 am
Ratnagiri, Ratnagiri Tiware dam, Tiware dam Ratnagiri, India news, Indian Express A policeman at the site of the dam breach in Ratnagiri. (Express file photo by Arul Horizon)

One year after the breach of Tiware dam in Ratnagiri district, which washed away an entire hamlet and killed 23 people, a long wait continues for 56 families from the village, who were assured rehabilitation.

The dam, built on Tiware river, which is a tributary of Vashishthi river, is located off Karad Chiplun Road in Ratnagiri district. It had started overflowing on the evening of July 2 last year, and by 9.30 pm that day, a part of the wall developed a breach, resulting in a flood-like situation.

Subsequently, a part of the dam wall was destroyed by the force of the water. The dam had undergone temporary repairs a few months prior to the incident.

More than 20 houses from Bhendwadi hamlet of the village, which was in the path of the flood-like flow, were completely washed away. While some of the houses were unoccupied at the time, 23 persons were killed in the incident. The National Disaster Response Force and local agencies, including police, had launched a search operation.

Twenty two bodies were recovered, but the body of a child, one-and-a-half-year old girl Durva Chavan, was never found. She was subsequently presumed dead. The district administration has drawn up a list of 56 families, which are being rehabilitated.

These 56 families are from three categories — those whose houses were completely washed away, those whose houses suffered major damages and those whose houses are located on potentially unstable slopes. Some of the affected families, which had houses elsewhere and could make alternate arrangements, have gone to live outside the village.

However, 15 families, which had nowhere else to go, have been living in makeshift houses made out of shipping containers donated through various welfare measures. While 42 of the 56 families have agreed for rehabilitation at Alore village, 15 km from Tiware, the remaining 14 have insisted that they be rehabilitated in Tiware village.

Ajit Chavan (40), who lost both his parents, brother, sister-in-law and niece Durva in the incident, spoke to The Indian Express over the phone from nearby Chiplun town of Ratnagiri district, where he owns a salon. His five-year-old nephew Rudra, Durva’s elder brother, survived the incident because he had come to Chiplun for school and now lives with relatives.

“Our peaceful lives in the remote village were completely shattered, and those losses can never be repaired. We still find it hard to believe that something like that happened. We were promised rehabilitation within six months after the incident. But based on what we know about the progress in the process, our wait is going to be long. We also want to know whether the government is going to take action against those whose negligence caused the loss of our families.” said Ajit.

When contacted, Chiplun Tehsildar Jayraj Suryavanshi said, “For rehabilitation of 42 families in Alore village, acquisition of land is complete and the Public Works Department has also floated a tender for construction of the houses. The work is expected to start by August. For the rehabilitation of 14 remaining families in Tiware, the acquisition of land is in the final stages. The process has taken time after some land tracts chosen earlier had to be dropped after examination of the soil.”

Shivaji Chavan (43), a barber who has a shop in Tiware, lost his father, two uncles and an aunt in the incident. “Living in those containers has been a nightmare in every season of the year. But at least, for the time being, we have a roof over our heads in our village. We hope that we get rehabilitated soon, and can start our lives afresh. We lost our homes, the least we expect is being given homes we can call our own,” said Shivaji.

The next surviving kin of the deceased received Rs 2 lakh and Rs 4 lakh from emergency relief funds of the Centre and state government, respectively. The livelihoods of those completely dependent on agriculture have been badly affected after their fields were completely washed away. Some of them are supporting their families by working as farm labourers.

The then chief minister Devendra Fadnavis had ordered the formation of a special investigation team to probe the incident. The SIT submitted its report to the state government in February this year. While the findings of the SIT have not been made public yet, a senior official said the report was “under consideration” of the government.

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