Heavy Rains Lash Western Maharashtra; 50,000 Evacuated, National Highway Shut
Incessant rains in Maharashtra are causing floods in Sangli and Kolhapur in western Maharashtra, with over 50,000 being rescued as rivers flowed over the danger mark. The Navy and Air Force were called in to help in the relief and rescue operations even as 50,000 people were evacuated in the two districts, officials said.
The national highway between Kolhapur and Belgaum in Karnataka was shut for vehicular traffic due to water-logging, Kolhapur Superintendent of Police Abhinav Deshmukh told PTI.
"On Monday, we closed one side of the national highway. However, as rains increased, we had to shut the entire national highway in the early hours of Tuesday," he said. Kolhapur has been witnessing "unprecedented" rains, causing a flood-like situation in several tehsils, he said.
Power supply to over 85,000 consumers in Kolhapur was suspended as a precautionary measure, an official from the Maharashtra State Electricity Distribution Company said.
Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said he has written to his Karnataka counterpart BS Yediyurappa, requesting him to increase the discharge of water from Almatti dam on Krishna river in the southern state so as to ease the flood situation in Sangli. Fadnavis said he would hold a review meeting on Wednesday to work out long-term measures to combat the flood situation.
"A total of 11,165 families, comprising nearly 50,000 individuals, have been evacuated from the low-lying areas of Sangli and Kolhapur and shifted to safer places," Pune divisional commissioner Deepak Mhaisekar said. A team of the NDRF informed that they rescued two pregnant women in Sangli and one in Kolhapur.
"Apart from additional teams of the NDRF, two choppers have been deployed for Kolhapur and if necessary, they will conduct sorties over Sangli," he said. The Navy will also deploy its choppers for the rescue operations for Sangli and Kolhapur, he said.
Mhaisekar said after the Maharashtra government request to Karnataka, the latter has increased the water discharge from Almatti dam to ease the flooding in Sangli. "They were releasing water from the dam at 3.21 lakh (cubic foot per second), and now discharge has been increased by 20,000. A request has been made to further increase the discharge to five lakh cusecs," he said.
Several thousand cusecs (cubic foot per second) of water was being released from Koyna and Radhanagari dams, leading to rise in the water levels of the Krishna and Panchganga rivers, respectively, official said.
The discharge of water from the dam is expected to improve the situation in Sangli, he said. The official further said that Ujani dam in Solapur was filled up to 90 percent of its total storage capacity and water was being discharged from it. "Due to the discharge, the temple town of Pandharpur might face problems and an advisory has been issued to take precautions," Mhaisekar said.
Deshmukh said that some rivers in the district were flowing above the danger mark. Teams of the National Disaster Response Force, fire brigade, local administration and police have been roped in for help as some rivers in the district are flowing above the danger mark, Deshmukh said. "An Army column (comprising around 60 personnel) has been summoned from Pune. They are likely to join the rescue operation in the district soon," he added. Flood waters entered many areas of Kolhapur city, including the collector's office, another official said.
An official at the collectorate said the situation this time was worse than 2005, when heavy rains pounded Mumbai and other areas of western Maharashtra.
The water level of the Panchganga river in Kolhapur crossed the danger mark of 49 feet. "It was flowing at 52 feet level on Tuesday," he said. The administrations in Pune, Satara, Kolhapur and Sangli declared a holiday for schools and colleges on Tuesday.