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Maharashtra rains: Deputy CM Ajit Pawar visits flood-hit villages; 192 dead, several missing

MUMBAI: On Monday, the state government said that the death toll in rain-related episodes in Maharashtra rose to 192, after the recovery of 28 more bodies, most of them in Raigad, while Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar traveled flood-hit villages in Sangli district and said a decision on granting financial relief will be considered in a couple of days.

The government in Mumbai said that 48 people have been injured and 25 are still missing, while 2,29,074 people have been evacuated from flood-affected areas. According to the official statement, Raigad has reported 95 deaths, Satara 45, Ratnagiri 21, Thane 12, Kolhapur 7, Sindhudurg, Akola, Pune and Wardha 2 each and Mumbai 4 (total 192).

As of Monday, the Raigad administration called off the search operations for 31 missing people in Taliye village, which was ravaged by a massive landslide following heavy rains last week, Collector Nidhi Chaudhari said. Last Thursday, the landslide that occurred after heavy rains in Mahad taluk of Raigad, flattened several houses in the area. The collector said the decision to call off the search operation was taken after seeking the opinion of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) and the disaster response forces of the state and neighboring Thane district.

‘The rescue operation has ended officially. We have withdrawn our teams from Taliye. The 31 missing people will be declared dead following the due process … Relatives of the missing have been calling for the closure of the operations since yesterday,’ the collector said earlier in the day.

During a visit to the village on Saturday, Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray said the government would come up with a plan to permanently relocate people living in hilly areas as landslides proved fatal in many places. The decision on providing relief for flood victims will be taken within the next few days, said Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar in Sangli on Monday after touring various flood-hit villages. He assured flood-affected people that the state government would provide rehabilitation and assistance.

‘Maha Vikas Aghadi government is going to provide all possible help to those affected by flooding. Cabinet ministers Jayant Patil, Vijay Wadettiwar, and minister of state Vishwajeet Kadam visited flood-affected areas in the Sangli district. In the next two days, a final decision about (the relief) will be taken in the presence of Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray,’ said Pawar, who also holds the Finance portfolio. Pawar was accompanied by Water Resources Minister Jayant Patil, Relief and Rehabilitation Minister Vijay Wadettiwar and Minister of State Vishwajeet Kadam when he visited flood-battered Bhilwadi and other areas of the district.

In Bhilwadi, they used a boat to reach out to people affected by the monsoon mayhem. Pawar later told reporters that floods in Western Maharashtra were caused by ‘unprecedented’ rains.

‘As heavy rains began after July 22, there was enough storage capacity in dams in the Krishna river basin but heavy rains in the pre-catchment areas of dams caused floods downstream,’ he said. Pawar defined the pre-catchment area of a dam as the area immediately ahead of the wall. In his view, the Koyna dam has never experienced such massive flooding since it was built. ‘Koyna dam, which has a capacity of 100 TMC, received around 16.5 TMC of water in one day. Near Koyna is a place called Navja, where 32 inches of rain was recorded,’ he said.

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According to Pawar, the work to assess flood losses has not been completed yet. ‘Real picture about the damage caused to crops and farms will emerge after the water recedes. I have instructed the district administration to continue with the assessment of losses at new places,’ he added.

Raigad and Ratnagiri districts each received an emergency financial assistance of Rs 2 crore from the state government on Sunday. Satara, Sangli, Pune, Kolhapur, Thane and Sindhudurg, all affected by rain, received financial assistance of Rs 50 lakh each. Thackeray visited Chiplun, the site of severe flooding in Ratnagiri district in the Konkan region, on Sunday and interacted with residents, businessmen and shopkeepers. The state government promised them all help. The heavy rains last week caused landslides and flooding in large parts of Maharashtra, especially in the Konkan region and Western Maharashtra.

The chief minister was scheduled to visit flood-hit Patan taluka in Satara district on Monday, but the trip was canceled due to rough weather, an official said. Thackeray was supposed to fly in a helicopter from Pune to Koynanagar and conduct an aerial survey there. He was also scheduled to meet the affected people at a shelter camp set up at a zilla parishad school in Koynanagar.


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