Over 2.85 lakh people have been evacuated due to the devastating floods in Western Maharashtra’s five districts including the worst-hit Kolhapur and Sangli, with the death toll reaching 29 on Friday.
The region is being pummeled by rain over the last few days, and major rivers including the Krishna and Panchaganga are in spate.
Divisional commissioner Dr Deepak Mhaisekar said flood waters had begun to recede in Kolhapur and Sangli. “In Kolhapur, the water level has decreased by two feet and in Sangli it has decreased by 3 inches,” he said.
Two helicopters started dropping relief material in flood-hit regions on Friday, he said.
“Still, connectivity is a major concern. We are hopeful that by tomorrow evening there will be connectivity in the region. It depends on the rainfall,” he added.
A total of 28 villages in Sangli and 18 villages in Kolhapur are completely surrounded by water and the only mode of reaching them is by boats, he said.
A total of 1,34,119 and 1,11,365 people have been evacuated to temporary camps in Sangli and Kolhapur districts, respectively. In Satara district 9,521 people have been evacuated, 6,819 in Pune and 23,437 in Solapur.
The government has decided to distribute compensation to flood victims immediately, Mhaisekar said. “We have received Rs 76 crore from the government. In cities, Rs 15,000 will be given per family and in rural areas Rs 10,000,” he said.
“The NH 4 (Mumbai-Bengaluru National Highway) is still shut for traffic and some 18,000 vehicles are stranded on the highway. Once it is opened, priority will be given to the trucks carrying essential things such as petrol, diesel, LPG and we have already brought such trucks forward,” he said.
Talking about the rescue boat capsize incident at Brahmnal in Sangli on Thursday, he said so far nine bodies had been recovered and nine people in the boat were still missing.
A dozen more rescue teams of the Navy were being deployed in Sangli district, said a defence spokesperson. The teams left for Sangli on Thursday night by road after air- lifting was aborted due to the weather.
An official in the Chief Minister’s Office said the discharge from Almatti dam in Karnataka on the Krishna was increased to 4,50,000 cusec (cubic foot per second) from 4,30,352 cusec, which is expected to ease the floods upstream.
By evening, the discharge would be 5 lakh cusec as decided by Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and his Karnataka counterpart B S Yediyurappa, he said.
Fadnavis briefed Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the flood situation on Friday.
A total of 34 rescue teams are working in Kolhapur and 36 in Sangli. These include teams of the NDRF, Navy, Coast Guard and State Disaster Response Force (SDRF).
The state government drew flak for announcing that financial aid would be given to people in only those areas which were inundated for more than two days. Opposition Congress said the Government Resolution (order) should be scrapped.