Rain batters more Rajasthan districts; toll 26

Rains continued to batter half a dozen Rajasthan districts in the eastern and northern parts for the second day on Thursday taking the toll of casualties to 26 in the past 48 hours. Though there was respite in heavy rains in Jaipur -- which had borne the brunt of rains the other day -- the adjoining districts of Dausa, Sikar, Sawai Madhopur and Karauli continued to reel under the impact of unprecedented outpour which the old timers put as heaviest in the past 30 years.

More deaths were reported during the day from Sikar (4), Mandal in Bhilwara (3), Bansur in Alwar district (2), and one casualty each in Jhunjhunu, Bharatpur and Rajgarh in Churu district. The previous day Jaipur had accounted for 10 deaths and Dholpur and Mahuwa in Dausa district, two each. Weather forecast has warned of heavy rains in the next 24 hours in Bikaner division, which includes Churu, Srigangnagar and Hanumangarh.

The sky was overcast in Jaipur with most of the places in the city receiving incessant drizzle. The schools remained closed for the second day while the scheduled B.Ed. examination was postponed. Residents of many city colonies and the Walled City were still grappling with the problems of water logging, disruption of water and electric supply and inaccessibility due to roads caving in.

Governor Margaret Alva visited Muhana village near Sanganer locality in the outskirts of Jaipur to meet the affected persons. She was accompanied by Jaipur’s MP Mahesh Joshi and City Mayor Jyoti Khandelwal. The Governor, after going around and listening to people, promised all assistance to the affected.

Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot who held discussions on phone with the Collectors of seven affected districts -- Sikar, Jhunjhunu, Churu, Dausa, Sawai Madhopur, Karauli and Dholpur -- reviewed the situation and asked them to carry out immediate relief operations. As the basic problem was of stagnant water Mr. Gehlot directed them to use pumps to draw the water out.

The Collectors also have been told to give priority to providing shelter to displaced persons and make arrangements for food and medicine. They have been asked to concentrate on repair of the roads and in keeping the electricity apparatus in order to check accidents. The patwaris have been asked to assess the damages to property.

The havoc and terror caused by the rain in the Shekhawati districts of Sikar and Jhunjhunu were such that through special “azans” (call for prayers) the believers were brought to mosques in Sikar town to pray for rains to cease. This was understandable as the most affected areas in Sikar town were the Muslim localities and the Dalit settlements.

“The downpour has beaten all the records of past 40 years in Sikar. Most of the city roads have at least four feet of water while the villages in the neighbourhood mud houses are crumpling,” Ashfaque Kayamkani, a social worker in Sikar told The Hindu . “On the brighter side, the water level in the wells has gone up and the Ranauli river, flowing through the outskirts of the town, has re-appeared after many years,” he pointed out. Again, water made its presence in the town’s biggest lake after a gap of several years.

The markets remained closed in Sikar town during the day while most of the localities, especially Bajaj Road, Fatehpur Gate and Ganesh mandir, had 4-6 feet water. “Water is seven feet high in Bakra mandi while the Dalit basti of Ambedkar Nagar is among the worst affected,” said advocate Kamal Khan. “All the four Muslim graveyards in Sikar are under water,” he informed.

Laxmangarh in Sikar district and Nawalgarh in Jhunjhunu experienced non-stop rains for the third day. Nirmala Godara, sarpanch of Birodi Badi in Laxmangarh tehsil informed that the heavy rains brought down the kutcha houses belonging to Dhanaram Balai in Jogion Ka Bas and Narayan Balai in Birodi Chhoti. The families, which lost all their belongings including grain stocks, have taken shelter with the neighbours, she said.

Unprecedented downpour has been the heaviest in the past 30 years

Heavy rains forecast in the next 24 hours in Churu, Srigangnagar and Hanumangarh