Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis on Thursday assured the people in flood-hit regions in Sangli and Kolhapur districts that rescue operations are proceeding apace, and that there is no need as yet for a declaration of national emergency.
“The situation in Sangli is very serious. I have requested Karnataka Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa to release five lakh cusecs of water from Almatti dam to ease the plight of the Sangli residents,” the CM said, adding, “Our priority is to first evacuate pregnant women, children and the sick.”
Meanwhile, Karnataka agreed to release five lakh cusecs of water from Almatti dam, located downstream on the Krishna river, an official from Mr. Fadnavis’ office said. This will help bring down the water level in the flood-affected areas in Western Maharashtra, he said.
Mr. Fadnavis was speaking in Kolhapur after conducting an aerial survey of the flood-affected zones in Satara, Sangli and Kolhapur districts. He reviewed rescue work at Shivaji Bridge and visited affected people at a transit camp in Kolhapur district. While four persons in Kolhapur have lost their lives in rain-related accidents in the last few days, the CM said there have been no casualties owing to the floods so far in the district. He said medical teams are working round the clock to check the spread of diseases and that more will be sent from Mumbai when required.
Mr. Fadnavis said 67,000 hectares of crops have been damaged in Kolhapur owing to the deluge, which has also destroyed 3,813 houses while rendering 390 water supply schemes dysfunctional. “If the situation demands, we will declare a national emergency. As of now, the government is carrying out relief efforts comparable to one,” the CM said, adding additional NDRF teams from Gujarat and Punjab have been roped in.
He said there are 22 rescue teams — five of the NDRF, one of the SDRF, 14 of the Navy, and one of the Coast Guard — engaged in Kolhapur, while 11 teams — eight of the NDRF, one of the Army, and two of the Coast Guard — are active in Sangli.
“Two more Coast Guard teams will reach Kolhapur while five Navy and two NDRF teams are to arrive in Sangli shortly,” Mr. Fadnavis said. He said the government and the administration are monitoring the situation and that he is in touch with Union Home Minister Amit Shah and Union Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, who have assured him of all help.
Explaining why he was compelled to take an aerial survey, the CM said he attempted to land his helicopter in flood-hit Karad but was unable to get permission owing to inclement weather.
Responding to accusations of tardiness in responding to the crisis, Mr. Fadnavis said he had cancelled his ‘Mahajanadesh Yatra’. “Maximum evacuation will be carried out by the end of Thursday. Water levels in Karad are going down. The rescue teams are conducting operations at full throttle. While it is true that the NDRF teams were compelled to turn back owing to bad weather, they have returned and are conducting rescue operations.”
Mr. Fadnavis said the challenge is to tackle the petrol and diesel shortage that Kolhapur and Sangli districts are experiencing as supply routes are cut off with the floods forcing the closure of national highways.
( With PTI inputs )