Heavy rains caused by a deep depression over the Arabian Sea have left 70 people dead in Gujarat’s Saurashtra region and parts of South Gujarat since Wednesday. The depression has since moved towards Madhya Pradesh but the rains have stranded people in several parts of Saurashtra, particularly in Amreli where 400 of 619 villages have been affected.
“Around 70 people died due to heavy rains,” Health Minister and government spokesperson Nitin Patel said, citing figures provided by the Gujarat state emergency control room.
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“The deep depression has passed out of the state, and now it has converted into a low-mark pressure and is centred over Madhya Pradesh. It will weaken further in the next 24 hours,” PTI quoted State Meteorological Department director Jayanta Sarkar as saying.
Up to 646 mm
The rainfall on Wednesday crossed 200 mm at several places. Amreli, which accounted for 26 of the deaths, had an average 127 mm, with Bagsara block recording 25.44 inches (646 mm) and Dhari block 20.44 inches (519 mm). In Bhavnagar district, Palitana had 14 inches, Jesar 10 inches and Bhavnagar 8 inches. Amreli, Bhavnagar and Rajkot had the highest rainfall in Saurashtra. Surat in South Gujarat exceeded those districts with 177 mm and saw two deaths. In North Gujarat, Idar too had 177 mm rainfall while Ahmedabad had 130 mm and Gandhinagar 97 mm; these districts suffered no casualties.
The India Meteorological Department has withdrawn a warning to ports and fishermen and predicted moderate to heavy rainfall until 8.30 am on Friday.
Death & damage
Amreli’s Bagasara block alone accounted for 18 deaths, 13 of them in the collapse of two houses and the other five in Pithadiya village, where a bus of Gujarat State Road Transport Corporation was washed away. A check dam had been washed away, the gush of water sweeping the bus off a bridge.
At least 30 villages in Amreli and Porbandar were cut off. Road links from Amreli to Dhari and Bagasara remained snapped through Thursday, with a bridge over the Shetrunji damaged. Six major state highways connecting Amreli city to its talukas have been damaged. In Rajkot, 1,700 houses have collapsed or been washed away. Jetpur town was flooded by water gushing in at 2 lakh cusec after all 29 gates of Bhadar dam, Saurashtra’s largest, were opened. Bhavnagar was still accessible but links to Porbandar were snapped when water released from the Bhadar dam marooned parts of 34 villages on Thursday. The Junagadh-Salaliya road had to be shut.
An estimated 60 per cent of the affected villages found their access to water cut off. With several electric poles uprooted, many parts of Amreli district reeled under power cuts. Crop damage across the state is being estimated, with compensation to be decided within a week. In Gandhinagar, chief secretary Ganga Ram Aloria chaired a meeting where the restoration of roads and power supply was put on priority.
Rescue and relief
Chief Minister Anandiben Patel, who did an aerial survey of Amreli district and Gondal in Rajkot, declared Rs 4 lakh as compensation to the kin of each of the deceased. Around 2 lakh food packets were distributed on Thursday, with some of these packets and water airdropped on 29 villages of Amreli.
Around 4,000 people were evacuated from 17 villages downstream of the Bhadar dam. Indian Air Force helicopters rescued over 100 people from various parts of Amreli, with four helicopters pressed into service. These included 48 from Amreli’s Gavadka village, including 23 passengers, the driver and the conductor of another state transport bus that had been swept away. From Jetpur town, 90 people were rescued by NDRF and the Rajkot fire brigade.