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Floods paralyse Kolhapur, Sangli; 1.32 lakh evacuated

Staying afloat: Locals rescuing an old woman from floodwater at Renuka Mandir road, Kasba Bavada, in Kolhapur on Wednesday.

Staying afloat: Locals rescuing an old woman from floodwater at Renuka Mandir road, Kasba Bavada, in Kolhapur on Wednesday.  

16 dead in western Maharashtra in one week; CM orders survey of crop damage; Army, Navy, Air Force, NDRF teams engaged in rescue operations; bus services affected

Over one lakh people from 20,000 families have been moved to safety as local residents, the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), and the Armed forces are pulling out all the stops to rescue those stuck in waterlogged areas in Kolhapur and Sangli districts. The districts are experiencing the worst deluge since 2005.

Sixteen people in five districts — Pune, Kolhapur, Satara, Sangli and Solapur — in western Maharashtra have lost their lives over the past week, while 1.32 lakh people from these districts were evacuated till Wednesday, Pune Divisional Commissioner Deepak Mhaisekar said.

“As many as 51,785 people were moved to safe areas in Kolhapur, while 53,228 were shifted in Sangli district. In addition, 13,336 from Pune, 7,749 from Solapur district, and 6,262 from Satara district have been evacuated,” Mr. Mhaisekar said. A total of 201 medical teams are working in the three most-afflicted districts of Kolhapur, Satara and Sangli.

Chairing an emergency meeting in Mumbai, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said rescuing women, children and patients is the priority, and directed the administration of the flood-hit districts to make alternative arrangements for food, essential items, and drinking water.

“I have directed for an immediate survey of crop damage. We will expand relief operations as and when required. At present, we are trying to mobilise maximum number of NDRF teams and those from the Armed forces. We have brought in NDRF teams from Gujarat and Odisha to focus on Kolhapur district where the situation is critical, while the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Coast Guard teams are doing their best to rescue those stranded,” Mr. Fadnavis said.

Mr. Mhaisekar said four teams of the Territorial Army are engaged in rescue operations in Kolhapur and one team has reached Sangli. While six NDRF teams are already in action in Kolhapur, six more are on their way by road. One Navy team is in operation in Kolhapur.

“Air connectivity has been established over Kolhapur since Wednesday morning with five more Navy teams to be dispatched via air over the district. In addition, three NDRF teams have reached Sangli while three more are en route. As of now, 29 boats in Kolhapur, 43 in Sangli, and 17 in Satara have been pressed into service to evacuate people,” he said, adding Pune divisional officials are in touch with the administration of the afflicted districts and the neighbouring Karnataka.

The deluge has completely thrown State Transport bus services in Kolhapur and Sangli out of gear. With 89 roads in Kolhapur under water, the district is completely cut off from the rest of Maharashtra.

“We have had to shut down traffic along the Pune-Bengaluru Highway owing to excess flooding in at least three places between Pune and Kolhapur. Likewise, we have lost contact with the Belagavi side owing to the deluge. Bus services to Kolhapur and Sangli have been suspended due to flooding with the bus stand in Sangli submerged,” Mr. Mhaisekar said.

With the Panchganga river touching 54 feet mark and the Krishna waters wreaking havoc in Sangli, residential and government buildings, including commissionerates, collectors’ residences, and jails, are half-submerged.

Rescue operations are under way in urban and the backwater areas of Kolhapur and Sangli.

Video clips of a courageous ambulance driver wading through the floodwater in Kolhapur to rescue a man in need of medical attention went viral, as did one of a boat ferrying some women which capsized near the Venus Corner roundabout in Kolhapur city. There were no casualties in either case.

While Satara district got temporary relief from the rain, the discharge from the Koyna dam was lowered by around 20,000 cusecs. The discharge from the Radhanagari dam in Kolhapur was briefly stopped.

Dairy business in the region is severely hit while a number of poultry farms have gone under water in some places. With major dairy operators like Gokul, Warana and Chitale being compelled to shut operations, western Maharashtra is expected to face a severe milk shortage in the coming days.

The condition of the livestock is appalling with no fodder for those stranded. However, authorities said a number of farmers, anticipating the crisis and anxious to prevent a repeat of the massive loss of livestock in the 2005 floods, had already begun to shift animals before Kolhapur and Sangli being flooded.

“As per data, 16,633 livestock in Sangli have been moved to safe zones,” Abhijeet Chaudhari , Collector, Sangli, said.

Authorities said more people started coming out of their houses as water levels began rising dangerously after Tuesday evening, even exceeding 10 feet in a number of places near the Krishna riverbank in Sangli.

The India Meteorological Department (IMD) has forecast heavy rain for Kolhapur in the next 48 hours. “From Wednesday night till forenoon of August 9, we expect heavy to very heavy showers to hit the ghat areas, including Kolhapur. The rain over Sangli has relaxed in contrast, with light to moderate rain expected on Thursday,” Anupam Kashyapi, head, weather and air pollution monitoring unit, IMD, said.

Warning for Pune

However, Mr. Kashyapi said Pune district will again witness heavy rain in some parts, especially in the ghat areas from August, and that a high alert has been issued in this regard.

“We expect extremely heavy, record breaking rainfall of 20.5 cm a day, in the ghat areas of Pune district over the next 48 hours. This may prompt a discharge from the dams yet again,” he said, adding the situation will improve from August 11.

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Printable version | Jul 8, 2020 7:51:55 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/floods-paralyse-kolhapur-sangli-132-lakh-evacuated/article28873771.ece

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