Most low-lying areas of Surat, Vadodara, Broach already under water Emergency plans underway in seriously threatened Surat; Army, Air Force on alert Over a lakh people evacuated in Maharshtra; Air Force used helicopters to supply food to marooned villages near Nagpur
GANDHINAGAR:The Army was deployed and Air Force helicopters kept on stand-by to evacuate people as overflowing waters of most of the major dams posed a serious threat to Surat, Vadodara, Broach and several other cities and towns in south and central Gujarat on Monday.
Most of the low-lying areas of Surat, Vadodara and Broach cities are already under water as authorities were forced to release water from the Ukai, Ajwa and Sardar Sarovar dams due to incessant rain in their upper catchment areas.
The situation was critical in Surat, where flood waters of Tapi inundated all the housing colonies and slums on the banks. Other parts of the city were also threatened if release of water from the Ukai dam continued.
A government spokesman here said authorities could be forced to increase the release from the Ukai dam to about 10 lakh cusecs if its intake of water continued at the present level. With nearly half of the city under knee-to-waist-deep water with about eight lakh cusecs release in the afternoon, authorities were busy chalking out emergency plans if release of water from the dam had to be increased to 10 lakh cusecs.
More than 50,000 people from the low-lying areas in Surat had already been evacuated and at least about a lakh more might have to be shifted if the water level increased in the Tapi. Two Army columns were pressed into service to evacuate the affected and remain prepared for emergency relief and rescue operations. Four helicopters were on stand-by in Surat and one in Vadodara for emergency evacuation. All five road bridges over the Tapi, linking old parts of the town with the new city, have been closed to traffic.
The situation was no better in Vadodara, where the Viswamitri river, flowing through the middle of the city, has crossed the danger level and entered the low-lying areas due to a continuous release of water from the Ajwa dam. Authorities evacuated over 1,200 people and asked thousands of others to remain prepared for evacuation. The Dadhar, Bhukhi and several other rivers were also in spate.
Rain batters Maharashtra
Arunkumar Bhatt reports from Mumbai:
Maharashtra continued to reel under heavy rainfall and the resultant deluge, with the death toll from floods on Monday rising to 52. Over a lakh persons were evacuated. At least seven persons are reported missing.
Official sources said 643 villages in 79 tehsils of the State were affected by the incessant rains. The worst affected districts are Nanded, Hingoli, Jalana, Parbhani, Buldhana, Yawatmal and Washim in Marathwada and Vidarbha regions. About 14 villages of Wani and Zari Zamni taluks of Yawatmal district are encircled by floodwaters.
The Army deployed eight helicopters and 16 boats and local authorities pressed 65 boats into service to rescue people from many marooned villages.
The Air Force used its helicopters to provide food to several such villages near Nagpur. The evacuated persons are now in relief camps.
Double the average rainfall
Most of the districts in Maharashtra received more than double the average rainfall in the last two days. All rivers are in spate, necessitating the release of water from reservoirs. The Godavari crossed the danger mark on Sunday night and the authorities released 1.5 cusecs from Gangapur, Darna, Palkhed and Alandi dams.