MUMBAI: The flood situation in western Maharashtra has improved with the water levels of two crucial rivers in the worst-hit Sangli and Kolhapur districts receding on Monday and relief and rescue operations going on in full swing.
The death toll due to flood and rain-related incidents in Sangli, Kolhapur, Satara, Pune and Solapur districts in the last eight days has risen to 43 with recovery of three bodies while three persons are still missing, a senior officer said on Monday.
Sangli alone has reported 21 deaths followed by Kolhapur, Satara and Pune.
Meanwhile, in a relief to truckers and motorists, the Mumbai-Bengaluru National Highway (NH-4), which was closed since the last six days due to flooding, was partially opened for traffic in Kolhapur district after the water receded.
The efforts of the administration to bring back the situation to normal in the flood-hit areas received boost with the water levels of the Krishna and Panchganga rivers in Sangli and Kolhapur, respectively, coming down further, and rains taking a break.
However, the rivers are still flowing above the danger mark.
Pune Divisional Commissioner Deepak Mhaisekar told reporters that 1,070 jawans of various agencies are carrying out rescue and relief operations with the help of 164 boats in the affected areas.
“Of the 43 deaths, Sangli district alone has reported 21 deaths followed by Kolhapur, Satara and Pune reporting seven deaths each while one person has died in Solapur district.
Besides, one person each is missing in Kolhapur, Sangli and Satara districts,” said Mhaisekar.
He said the water level of the Krishna river at the Irwin bridge in Sangli was recorded at 50.01 feet this afternoon against the danger level of 45 feet.
“The river water level has decreased by 3.8 feet in the last 24 hours. Similarly, in Kolhapur, the Panchganga river is flowing at 47. 11 feet as against the danger level of 43 feet at the Rajaram weir,” Mhaisekar said.
On Sunday, the Krishna river was flowing 9.2 feet above the danger level while the Panchganga river 7.6 feet higher than the danger mark.
However, despite water levels going down, 147 roads still remained closed for traffic as a precautionary measure in Kolhapur, Sangli, Satara, Pune and Solapur, Mhaisekar added.
He said the Koyna dam in Satara district, which has the water storage capacity at 105 TMC, currently has 102 TMC water.
“Compared to the water inflow of 44,357 cusec, the water discharge from the Koyna dam is being maintained at 53,882 cusec. The water inflow in the Almatti dam in Karnatana bordering Kolhapur is 6,11,667 cusec as against the discharge of 5,70,000 cusec,” said Mhaisekar.
Kolhapur and Sangli districts have been battling unprecedented floods since the last eight days.
The floods were triggered by huge release of water from dams in western Maharashtra and from Almatti, causing largescale destruction and displacement of over four lakh people.
As many as 761 villages in 69 talukas have been affected by floods.
Thane, Pune, Nashik, Palghar, Ratnagiri, Raigad and Sindhudurg districts had also received heavy rains.
Meanwhile, traffic movement was allowed between Kolhapur and Belgaum in Karnataka through one lane on Shiroli bridge of the six-lane NH-4 where thousands of vehicles were stuck since last week after it submerged in flood waters.
“The water level has come down and Shiroli bridge can be used for vehicular movement. We have so far decided to open only one lane on either side of the national highway as a precautionary measure,” said Kolhapur Superintendent of Police Abhinav Deshmukh.
There was still some water flowing over the bridge, but it was expected to recede as continuous discharge of water from Almatti dam was on, according to a district official.
The official said that rains have stopped in the Panchganga’s catchment areas but some discharge is still going on from dams into the river.
“Once the water-level goes down further, roads in Kolhapur will be opened for vehicular movement,” he said.
Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Sunday conducted an aerial survey of the flood-hit areas in Satara, Sangli and Kolhapur districts.
Teams of the Army, Air Force, Navy, National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), the Coast Guard, State Disaster Response Force (SDRF), police and local officials have been carrying out rescue operations in the western Maharashtra region.