After floods, Maharashtra launches relief, rehab works
By Quaid Najmi
Sangli, Aug 12 (IANS) After the 12-day rescue operations, which is still on in some pockets, the task of providing relief and rehabilitation has been launched in Sangli, Kolhapur and surrounding areas as the skies cleared. The flood toll increased to 43 on Monday.
The state has requested the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to direct banks to make their dead ATMs functional at the earliest. Of the 647 ATMs in the flood-hit area, 334 are still non-functional. The rest 313 are reported to be working with an estimated cash availability of Rs 25 crore.
The State Chief Secretary is in touch with the RBI and other banks, including SBI Chairman Rajnish Kumar, to ensure early restoration of ATMs and cash availability for peoples' immediate needs and to make emergency purchases.
The state and private groups have rushed in large quantities of medicines to prevent outbreak of water-borne diseases. The supply of chlorine tablets to purify drinking water, DDT and bleaching powders for cleaning of homes and neighbourhood has been stepped up.
While six people were still missing, nearly 475,000 were shifted to 596 temporary camps after the one of the worst floods in recent times, Pune Divisional Commissioner Deepak Mhaiskar said on Monday.
Power supply is a concern with 263,282 consumers and 143,047 farmers going without power as around 16,000 transformers were damaged or destroyed. According to Mhaiskar, supply has been restored in stages to 136,303 consumers and 34,179 farmers and efforts are being made to revive power to the rest.
At present, 105 teams of the army, navy, air force, NDRF, SDRF, district, municipal and local bodies with 164 boats are engaged in rescue operation.
Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said 761 villages in the two districts were badly hit. Around 147 big and small roads, 66 bridges, besides interior and rural roads were still shut for traffic.
Fadnavis is in touch with the central government for relief and rehabilitation measures.
Next week, the state government is likely to seek a major compensation package from the Centre, particularly since the Assembly elections are due after two months.
In a positive step, the Railways has waived freight charges for relief materials on way to flood-hit regions in Maharashtra, Karnataka and Kerala. "No freight charges will be levied on relief material sent to the flood-affected Karnataka, Kerala and Maharashtra. We urge you to help us in this effort and send as much relief material as possible, which we will transport for free," Railway Minister Piyush Goyal said on Monday.
Though food and clothes have reached in large quantities, an important requirement is sanitary napkins for women and girls, said local NGOs.
RTS LifeCare India's Tushir Choudhary from Mumbai and Bhumata Bhagini Brigade chief Trupti Desai from Pune told IANS they "have rushed 10,000 sanitary pads to Kolhapur and arranging for more for women in Sangli and Satara".
"The students of the DY Patil College in Pune responded to our calls and have collected the sanitary pads. We are getting more and will ensure that our sisters will not have to suffer in any manner," Desai told IANS.
Hundreds of trucks and tempos laden with goods, bound for different parts of the state and outside, that were stranded for nearly 12 days, have started moving towards their destinations as the waters started receding the highways were declared safe.
As the rains stopped, the receding flood waters revealed the ravage with mud and muck running one-to-three feet deep, fallen trees, rotting carcasses of big and small animals, fowl, thousands of big and small vehicles, two-wheelers damaged badly or destroyed lining the roads.
Fadnavis has asked the district administration and half a dozen |ministers camping there to make available all required machinery to clean the flood-hit areas and coordinate efforts of the government and NGOs.
The BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has sent a second team of doctors, plus cleaners, sweepers, pest control experts to help sanitize the flood-hit areas for the local to return home safely, with BMC Municipal Commission Praveen Pardeshi camping there to coordinate the efforts.