Several thousand people evacuated to safety as several reservoirs on the major rivers fill up

Several parts of south, central and north Gujarat regions which had been hit by drought are now facing the threat of floods, following incessant heavy rainfall in the last three days.

Several thousand people were evacuated to safer places as several reservoirs on the major rivers including Narmada, Mahi, Tapi and Hathmati started filling up. The release of excess water inundated several villages and towns. With the weather bureau forecasting moderate to heavy rainfall in most parts of south and central Gujarat regions in the next 36 hours, the authorities have asked district authorities to keep evacuation, rescue and relief plans ready.

The State government last month had submitted a memorandum to the Centre demanding assistance of over Rs. 18,000 crore for drought relief operations and had launched relief works in the Kutch-Saurashtra and the north Gujarat regions to provide jobs to the drought-hit rural population.

Though the rainfall so far is still not very satisfactory from the agricultural point of view in the Kutch and the Saurashtra region, the areas are unlikely to face the acute shortage of drinking water as was feared last month, while the central and north Gujarat regions seem to be out of the grip of drought. According to the weather bureau, at least 198 of the 225 talukas in the State received good rainfall during the last 48 hours and more is expected in the coming days.

One killed

For the second time during the current monsoon, the Sardar Sarovar reservoir of the Narmada has started overflowing with the water level reaching more than 129 metres, as against the constructed height of 121 metres, due to heavy rainfall in its catchment areas in Madhya Pradesh.

The flood waters entered the low-lying areas of Broach town, besides inundating some 25 villages. One person was reportedly killed when his “kutchha” house near the Golden Bridge on the outskirts of Broach town collapsed due to heavy rain and floods.

The level of the Narmada at the Golden Bridge rose to more than 29 metres as against the danger level of 26 metres, while the swirling waters of the Tapi river virtually choked the drainage lines of Surat city.

Following heavy discharge of water from the dams in Maharashtra, Tapi waters entered some low-lying areas of the city forcing the civic authorities to shift several hundred people to safer places and keep rescue machinery on stand-by.

In some parts of Surat city, fire brigade personnel had to arrange for relief boats to ferry patients and their relatives to and from hospitals where water level was more than waist high.

While the Kadana and Vanakbori reservoirs on the Mahi river in central Gujarat are overflowing inundating villages in Vadodara and Anand districts, several dams in the north Gujarat regions including Dantiwada, Sipu and Mukteswar in Banaskantha district are brimming over.