With the death toll in the floods caused by a breach in the Tiware dam in Ratnagiri’s Chiplun rising to 18, questions are being raised about possible negligence on the part of Irrigation Department officials, who had carried out repair works on the dams weeks before the incident.
The Opposition in the Maharashtra Assembly has also demanded that a case be registered against local Shiv Sena MLA Sadanand Chavan, who was closely associated with the firm Khemraj Constructions, which had built the dam in 2004. Chavan was unavailable for comment.
A senior local police officer said, “An investigation team has been set up by the government to probe possible negligence. The firm constructed the dam in 2004, maintained it for an year, and handed it over to the government. A probe will also be conducted into why a settlement was allowed to remain so close to the dam, and into the repairs that were done recently. Based on the report, a case will be filed.”
When asked why the settlement was allowed remain so close to the dam wall, Irrigation Department chief engineer for the region, Prakash Deshmukh, said he would answer queries later, but then did not answer phone calls.
Meanwhile, the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) is conducting search operations for at least five more people missing in the aftermath of the floods.
NDRF deputy commandant Sachchidanand Gawade, who is heading search operation, said, “Till now, 17 bodies have been taken out. Our teams are continuing with the visual search downstream. We have established a control centre and are in touch with various teams which are searching at various places. Our teams are going back to places where there are reports of foul smell. From some places dead cattle are also being found.”
At the relief camp set up at a school near Tiware village, officials from the district administration were completing panchnamas for the losses at various villages downstream. “The process has begun to identify the immediate kin of the deceased to give them compensation, as has been announced by the government,” a revenue official said.
Government agencies have also launched relief work and preventive measures to avert communicable diseases.
Deputy Director (Health Services) Dr Nitin Bilolikar, who visited the area said, “We have set up medical camps at various places in the area. Such conditions can lead to spread of certain diseases, and to prevent that, measures like fumigation, preliminary checks have been initiated.”