OVER 1.32 lakh people have been shifted to safer places in Western Maharashtra with the flood situation remaining especially grim in Kolhapur and Sangli districts on Wednesday following incessant rains. Sixteen deaths in rain- and flood-related incidents have been reported from western Maharashtra so far in the last seven days, officials said. “In Pune region (comprising districts of Pune, Satara, Solapur, Sangli and Kolhapur), so far 1.32 lakh people affected by floods have been evacuated to safer places,” said Dr Deepak Mhaisekar, divisional commissioner, Pune. In Sangli and Kolhapur districts, over 53,000 and 51,000 people, respectively, were evacuated, he said. In Solapur district, 2,500 people were moved to safer places in the temple town of Pandharpur after the discharge of water from the overflowing Ujani dam increased, he added.
“Teams of Army, Navy and National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) are conducting rescue operations in both the districts and six more NDRF teams will be airlifted to Kolhapur by Wednesday evening,” he said. “All the dams in the region are overflowing and the Met Department has predicted continuous rains for the next three to four days. So if the catchment areas of dams receive more rain, possibility of more floods can not be ruled out,” Mhaisekar added. In Pune district, over 13,000 people were shifted to safer places, he said. In Satara, the flood situation is grim in Mahabaleshwar, Wai and Karad and so far 6,000 people have been evacuated.
In Kolhapur district, 204 out of total 1,234 villages have been affected due to the floods, resident deputy collector Sanjay Shinde said earlier on Wednesday morning. “342 bridges have gone underwater and are closed for vehicles. Twenty-nine state highways and 56 roads have also been shut. Mumbai-Bengaluru National Highway No 4 and the Kolhapur-Ratnagiri highway (part of Mumbai-Goa national highway) are still closed,” he said. Over 45 boats have been deployed for evacuation operations, he said. Shinde’s own office was not spared by rain fury.
“My office has been completely flooded and several offices in the collectorate have been shifted elsewhere,” he said. Five teams of the Western Naval Command and four teams of divers from the naval base in Goa have been deployed for rescue operations in Kolhapur and other areas, a defence spokesperson said. The rescue teams were flown from INS Hansa Naval air station in Goa on Wednesday morning to Kolhapur, he said.