Raju Shetti flays Fadnavis, says no lessons learned from 2005 deluge

In safe hands: A member of the district disaster management team shifting a newborn out of Chikhali village on the outskirts of Kolhapur on Wednesday.

In safe hands: A member of the district disaster management team shifting a newborn out of Chikhali village on the outskirts of Kolhapur on Wednesday.  

Swabhimani Paksha chief Raju Shetti has hit out at Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis for his government’s unpreparedness and tardy response to the floods in Sangli and Kolhapur districts in western Maharashtra.

Speaking to The Hindu from his residence in flood-hit Hatkanangale in Kolhapur, the former MP accused Mr. Fadnavis of failing to gauge the seriousness of the crisis, while stating that BJP leader and Kolhapur Guardian Minister Chandrakant Patil is nowhere to be seen.

The farmers’ leader alleged that the administration has learnt no lessons from the 2005 experience. “The deluge in 2005 was considered the worst in western Maharashtra for a century. But the present situation is grimmer than that. Sangli and Kolhapur are inundated with waist-deep water and people can only navigate and help in rescue operations through boats. But 40% of the boats in the districts are dysfunctional.”

Mr. Shetti chastised Mr. Fadnavis for failing to mobilise rescue teams earlier and seeking help from the Army, Navy and Air Force only when the situation became critical.

He said the inclement weather is preventing rescue teams from reaching far-flung villages in Kolhapur district. “When this region was affected in 2005, the then Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh had secured help from the Armed forces well in advance and had personally visited the flood-hit zones. However, with no break in rains and the discharge of excess water from dams continuing, the Army is facing difficulties in rescuing people marooned in the backwater villages as roads and rail routes in Kolhapur have been rendered inaccessible.”

Instead, he said, the CM was busy on his pre-election ‘Mahajanadesh Yatra’, and the government has woken up to the crisis only now.

“While the NDRF teams and Army jawans, who have been able to make it here [in Kolhapur and Sangli], are certainly pulling out all the stops, it is the fighting spirit of the people that made evacuation on such a massive scale possible. Hats off also to those social organisations which are providing food and relief,” Mr. Shetti said.

Mr. Patil said it is improper for the Opposition to play politics over floods while stating that he is trying to reach Kolhapur at the earliest opportunity.

“While Kolhapur, Sangli and Satara have been ravaged by floods, the situation in Kolhapur is critical. It is difficult to enter the district as it is cut off from all four sides. Even military helicopters were forced to turn back on Tuesday,” Mr. Patil said in Mumbai.

He said he is coordinating with the administration of the three districts and reviewing the situation. “I am in touch with the Collectors of the affected areas over phone, reviewing the situation every half an hour. As of now, 40 boats in Kolhapur and 10 in Sangli have been pressed into service. All necessary provisions like milk and drinking water are being reached out to the flood-hit.”

Mr. Patil, who is also the Guardian Minister of Pune district, said the CM is in talks with military authorities to see whether it is possible for him to reach Kolhapur by an Army plane.

“However, the Army, too has certain rules which must be followed. If they agree, I shall soon reach Kolhapur to be with the flood-affected in person,” he said.

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Printable version | Jul 11, 2020 4:55:44 AM |

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