Despite decrease in the intensity of rainfall, the flood situation in western Maharashtra remains grim, with nine persons drowning when a rescue boat capsized in Sangli district on Thursday.
Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis conducted an aerial survey to review the flood situation in Sangli and Kolhapur, which are the worst hit following heavy rain in the area where the Krishna and Panchganga rivers are in spate.
Nine persons drowned and five were missing after a boat engaged in rescue work overturned in Sangli, said Deepak Mhaisekar, Divisional Commissioner of Pune. “Nine persons died and five are still missing when the private boat they were travelling in overturned at Bramhnal village in Sangli’s Palus taluka. The deceased include seven women, one man and one child,” he added.
Nineteen people on the boat, which was carrying around 30 to 32 people, swimmed to safety. Mhaisekar said the private boat, arranged by the gram panchayat, was evacuating people after Bramhnal was flooded. “Initial reports say that the boat was overcrowded. It had 35 people on board, though it could only carry 20 people,” he added.
Till Wednesday, while around 1.2 lakh flood-affected people in Pune Division (comprising districts of Pune, Satara, Solapur, Sangli and Kolhapur) were shifted to safer places, 16 people had died.
Kolhapur and Sangli — the two worst-affected districts — still remain cut-off from the rest of the state. Around 50,000 people are still believed to be stuck, a government official said.
The Mumbai-Bengaluru National Highway remained shut between Karad and Kolhapur for the third consecutive day, as waters from Panchganga river flooded the road. “The water level can increase suddenly. Our challenge is to stop people who are coming to the spot to see the flood and click photos,” said a police officer posted at Sangli Phata Bridge in Kolhapur.
In a joint effort by the local police and the state highway patrol, at least 6,000 trucks were stopped on the highway’s service roads or single lanes and not allowed to go to Kolhapur. Rajesh Singh, a truck driver carrying building machinery from Mumbai to Bengaluru, said, “We have been told by the police that it will take at least three more days for the water to recede in Kolhapur and only then the road will be cleared.”
The police said that the road will be opened for traffic after the floodwater recedes and PWD officials inspect the area.
According to district officials, supply of drinking water, milk and petrol have been a problem in some parts of Sangli, Kolhapur and Satara districts. Also, some areas are facing powercuts.
Meanwhile, teams of NDRF, Army and Navy continued evacuating people to safer locations in coordination with the local administration. The commandant of the 5th Battalion of NDRF, Anupam Shrivastava, said 28 teams had been deployed in western Maharashtra. “Of these, 23 are in Sangli, Satara and Kolhapur. Three more teams are being flown in.”
Around 10 Navy teams have been deployed in the region. As on Thursday, the Army has deployed 16 columns, 14 engineer task forces, including a para special force team in Kolhapur, Sangli and Raigad districts of Maharashtra and Bagalkot, Raichur, Belgaum and Kodagu districts of Karnataka.
An officer said, “The district administration should have requisitioned Army support at least 24 hours earlier. More men and equipment could have reached and we would been even better prepared.” Around 3,500 people have been rescued and 10,000 evacuated from marooned areas, said a statement from the Army.
(WITH PTI inputs)