Dozen feared dead as vehicle is washed away

Special Correspondent

While crossing a causeway at Ghata Hera in Rajasthan

Rains in M.P. have led to the flooding of the Chhappi River

Western districts of Rajasthan face threat of floods

JAIPUR: Over a dozen persons are feared dead after the vehicle in which they were crossing a causeway at Ghata Hera in Aklera tehsil of Rajasthan’s Jhalawar district on Saturday was washed away by sudden flow of water resulting from heavy rains in the neighbouring Madhya Pradesh. In all there were reportedly 30 persons, including women and children, in the “jugad” (make shift vehicle) of which 10 could either swim to safety or be rescued by onlookers.

The accident took place sometime between 4 and 5 pm. The “jugad” itself is a light vehicle, locally made by villagers in many parts of Rajasthan for transport. Moreover the travellers were reportedly taken by surprise by the surging currents, as the area did not have much rain during the day. The heavy rains during the past two days in Madhya Pradesh districts had led to the flooding of the Chhappi River of which Ghata Hera is the drain. The Jhalawar District Collector and Superintendent of Police have rushed to the place. The details are awaited.

The desert State continued to face the threat of floods in its western districts for the second day even though the rain subsided. The Jaswant Sagar dam in Bilara tehsil of Jodhpur district, which had developed cracks after receiving 1500 MCFT water after a gap of many years, continued to pose a serious threat to some 60-65 villages in Jodhpur, Pali and Barmer districts located downstream.

The army has been called out to help the civic authorities to plug the cracks, said to be nine initially, on the walls of the dam. The jawans of the Rajasthan Armed Constabulary and the staff of the State Irrigation Department were engaged in plugging the gaps and blasting the spillway to let more water flow down.

Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje made an aerial survey of the affected area and met the officials at the Jodhpur airport to discuss the contingency plans for evacuation of the population in case the dam breaches. Chief Secretary D.C. Samant and Relief Secretary C.K. Mathew accompanied her. “The people in the affected areas have been warned about the situation. The Army and the Air Force are standing by for possible eventuality,” she told journalists in Jodhpur.

During the day there were rumours about the dam being breached. The authorities denied any such situation. “It is a five-km-long dam. It has two cracks now on which they are working. If there is further rain then the condition of the dam is going to pose a serious problem. For the time being it is intact,” Mr. Mathew said. Jaswant Sagar was in a state of disrepair, as it had not been receiving water for the past many years.

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