NEW DELHI (AFP): Severe monsoon flooding has killed 213 people in western India, an official said on Sunday, as rescuers continue to sift through villages devastated by torrential rains, reported The Guardian.
The death toll in Gujarat state jumped from Wednesday’s total of 123 to 213, the government said, as waters receded from low-lying areas, allowing rescue workers to reach remote spots. Overwhelmed authorities, which expect the toll to rise further, said they had struggled to cope with the number of bodies needing identification and postmortems, resulting in delays in confirming the latest deaths.
According to Times of India, the maximum deaths have happened since July 21 in Banaskantha district that was pounded by incessant rainfall and due to release of massive quantity of water from the local dams later. Control room sources said that 61 deaths, mostly due to drowning, have been reported from Banaskantha alone.
Chief Minister Vijay Rupani has announced that he would be camping in the district for next five days to oversee relief and rehabilitation work. On Sunday, Rupani met the relatives of the 17 people from a family who died in Khariya village of Kankrej taluka. At least 28 bodies have been recovered from the Banas river in Khariya and nearby villages alone. He also interacted with family members of the victims and distributed compensation cheques.
“This is the worst flood of the century in Banaskantha,” Rupani said. He also visited Dhanera, which was the worst-affected and met farmers and traders at the Agriculture Produce Market Committee (APMC), which has been forced to dump nearly 4,000 tonne rotten grains into a 10 hectare government wasteland. The APMC has sought INR 80 crore as assistance from the state government to start everything afresh.
“Assured them of proper and timely assessment of the damage caused due to the devastating flood,” Rupani tweeted. Smarting under severe criticism over party MLAs cooling their heels in Bengaluru resort, senior Congress leader Ahmed Patel, state Congress president Bharatsinh Solanki, state Congress affairs incharge Ashok Gehlot and others also toured the flood-hit areas of Banaskantha on Sunday and met relatives of the deceased.
Congress hit back at the BJP for spitting venom against its MLAs for not being there in the floods. “Where was Ahmedabad (East) MP Paresh Rawal when majority of the areas were inundated? Where was local MP (Mohan Kundariya) when Morbi district was flooded,” the party’s spokesman Manish Doshi said.
Hitting out at Patel, Rupani said it was out his greed to win the Rajya Sabha poll, that he sent 40 Congress MLAs to Bengaluru. “Some of them belonged to those districts which are badly hit by flood. Patel forced them to leave their constituencies, as he was only concerned about his Rajya Sabha seat,” the chief minister alleged.
Talking to media persons in Palanpur, Patel refuted Rupani’s allegation that leaving Gujarat and moving to Bengaluru shows the ‘insensitive approach’ of the Congress MLAs, at a time when the state is facing flood-like situation. He alleged that Congress MLAs from Banaskantha and other flood-affected regions were forced to leave the state.