by Rons Bantwal - Daijiworld News network - Mumbai
Mumbai, Aug 8: Heavy rains in Maharashtra have claimed 52 lives and over one lakh people have been evacuated to safer places, an official said today. “A total of 1,0,5,222 people have been evacuated to safer places in 643 villages of 79 tehsils in the state,” Director General (DGIPR) Manisha Patankar Mhaiskar said. Eight helicopters and 16 army boats along with 65 civilian boats are engaged in relief and rescue operations in the flood-affected areas, she said.
For the second consecutive day the monsoon continued to pound Mumbai and parts of Maharashtra, while the flood situation worsened in south Gujarat and more than 200 villages in Andhra Pradesh were submerged.
Heavy rains swept across Mumbai crippling road, rail and air traffic. The services on the Western Railway were not affected by the heavy downpour. However, the services on the Central railway were running 10 to 15 minutes late during the day and 35 services were cancelled.
Vehicles waded at a slow pace on various routes in the bustling metropolis as the streets were flooded. Air traffic was also affected with flights operating behind schedule due to poor visibility. A number of schools and colleges preferred to stay shut while those offices that were open closed early.
Marathwada and Vidarbha regions bore the maximum brunt of rain fury. A total of 170 villages in 16 tehsils of Yavatmal district in Vidarbha were affected by heavy showers. The authorities have taken up relief operations in the affected areas on a war-footing, officials said. Two major breaches have submerged at least 100 villages in the east Godavari and 60 villages in west Godavari districts while 70 villages were flooded in Khammam district, from where people were shifted to safer places, official sources said.
The downpour also played havoc in north coastal districts of Srikakulam, Vizianagaram and Visakhapatnam which were battered by torrential rains for three days. In Nagpur, authorities used Indian Air Force helicopter and two motor boats to rescue about 850 persons from Kolshi village on the banks of overflowing Wardha River in south-east Vidarbha region. In Pune, several low-lying areas in the city were still under water as heavy rains continued unabated, but the discharge from various dams has been reduced. Kolhapur, Solapur, Satara and Sangli districts were experiencing heavy rains and water level was rising in various rivers.
Meanwhile in neighbouring Gujarat, the flood situation worsened in parts of south Gujarat and about 30,000 people have been evacuated from Surat city after the river Tapti crossed the danger mark flooding several low-lying areas prompting the authorities to seek Army’s help.
Water in the river Tapti has been rising steadily since yesterday after the gates of the Ukai Five columns of the army have been called for assistance to provide succour to the people affected by the rains in the flood hit areas.