Manas Dasgupta

Diamond city reels as most telephone lines go dead and power is cut off

GANDHINAGAR: The flood situation worsened in Gujarat on Tuesday with the water level rising in Surat, Vadodara, Broach and several other cities and towns in the south and central regions displacing lakhs of people.

More than 2.5 lakh people, including over 1.20 lakh in Surat city alone, have been evacuated to safer places with the help of the Army and Indian Air Force. The State Government has urged the people in Surat to move to any place at least 20 feet higher than the ground level.

An official spokesman said around 70 per cent of the diamond city was under eight to 10 feet of water. Most telephone lines there were dead and the electricity supply cut off.

State Relief Commissioner D. A. Satya cautioned that the situation could deteriorate if the authorities were forced to increase the release of water from the Ukai dam as the inflow continued to rise with heavy rainfall in its upper catchment areas in Maharashtra.

The city has been virtually divided with all the five road bridges over the Tapi linking the two sides submerged. The Tapi was flowing above the bridges and the ground floors of all the houses in housing colonies on both banks were submerged.

In addition to the five Army columns deployed on Monday, five more columns as well as about a dozen companies of para-military forces were pressed into service in Surat to evacuate people as the continued to rise. The Army personnel with the help of some 70 boats and four Indian Air Force helicopters rescued more than 3,000 people trapped on one of the road bridges across the Tapi, besides evacuating thousands of others from different areas in the city.

Modi's appeal

Chief Minister Narendra Modi, who had an aerial survey of the flood-hit city, held a high-level meeting of the officials to review the situation. He appealed to the people and voluntary organisations to join hands with the Government to help the affected. He urged the railways to run special trains from Mumbai and Ahmedabad to dispatch relief material to Surat.

The situation has been further complicated because of the full moon day on Wednesday when the high tide in the seas will further push the flood waters back into the river. The major industrial hub at Hazira, just about 20 km from Surat on the sea coast, could face a major threat if the Tapi rose further.