209 deaths confirmed in Maharashtra floods

Ajit Pawar says committee will be formed to suggest measures to remove silt deposits in rivers

July 28, 2021 01:05 am | Updated 01:06 am IST - Mumbai

NDRF personnel during a rescue operation at a flooded area after rain in Chiplun on Tuesday.

NDRF personnel during a rescue operation at a flooded area after rain in Chiplun on Tuesday.

At least 209 people have died in floods in Maharashtra and 8 still remain missing, it has been confirmed. A total of 4,34,185 people from eight districts have been evacuated to safer places, as rescue operations continue.

Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar, who is on a tour of visit flood-affected Sangli and Kolhapur districts, directed the authorities on Tuesday to make a list of unauthorised structures on river beds. “No permission can be granted to any structure within the river bed at any cost,” he told the authorities at a meeting held after his visit.

Addressing a press conference, Mr. Pawar said that a committee would be set up under retired principal secretary Eknath Patil. “The committee will study and suggest measures to remove river silt deposits. This would clear the river path and ensure a smooth flow,” he said.

Highway closure

Commenting on the closure of National Highway 4 (Pune-Bangalore) after the road went under water, affecting the supply of milk, fuel and vegetables, Mr Pawar said flood water had accumulated between Shiroli and Kini toll booth. “We will be studying the level of flood water in the years 2005, 2019 and 2021. Based on that, discussions will be held with Union Minister Nitin Gadkari on raising the height of roads,” he said.

Canals to divert water

Meanwhile, former Chief Minister and leader of the Opposition Devendra Fadnavis said building canals to divert water to Maharashtra’s drought prone areas was the best option available. “The project was discussed with the World Bank for funding during our time and it had even given in-principle approval. I think this is the only option in the long term.”

Diverting run-off water would not invite any objection even from Karnataka, Mr. Fadnavis said.

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