In yet another unfortunate incident, a breach at the Tiware Dam in Ratnagiri district killed 11 people and several others reported missing on Wednesday. This reveals unpreparedness and inaction of the administration and the state government. Heavy rains and rain-related incidents across Maharashtra have claimed 50 lives so far. Anguished people are asking how many more deaths does the government expect?
As per reports, rainfall continued in Maharashtra including the state capital Mumbai. A small dam called Tiware in Ratnagiri district’s Tehsil Chiplun got breached on Wednesday. It caused a flood-like situation in seven villages near the dam. Around 12 houses in the village adjacent to the dam have been washed away. Eleven persons are found dead and 23 people are missing after this incident. A team of 5 BN NDRF has been sent to Tiware dam for the rescue operation. Pune’s National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) team also reached there. Civil administration, police, and volunteers are working at the site. The capacity of the Tiware dam is 0.08 TMC. The dam was built in 2000.
People of the area said that they had informed the district authorities of its leakage two years back but no repairs were carried out. Local public representatives also alleged that the government neglected their pleas for maintenance of the dam. They claimed to have written to the administration about the cracks in the walls of the dam. Maharashtra Water Resources Minister Girish Mahajan said that villagers in the vicinity of the Tiware Dam had complained of cracks in the dam.
Maharashtra CMO sources said, “CM Devendra Fadnavis spoke to Ratnagiri Collector, other officials and took stock of the situation after Tiware dam incident. CM expressed grief over the loss of lives and ordered an inquiry. SIT will be constituted in this case. CM Fadnavis asked Minister Girish Mahajan to visit.”
When asked about the Tiware dam incident, Congress MLC Bhai Jagtap told Afternoon Voice, “The contractor of the dam who is close to Shiv Sena MLA from Chiplun Sadanand Chavan and his associate contractor are prima facie guilty and a case under Section 302 of IPC should be filed against them. If the government defends them, it will have to reply. People of the area had been registering a complaint regarding the breach in the dam. The Konkan region receives heavy rainfall; it is not a new thing. So, the government should have taken precaution accordingly. However, the state government is playing with the lives of people. Action must be taken against the guilty persons for this.”
According to police, the Tiware Dam which had started overflowing around 8 p.m. following heavy rain, reportedly breached soon after. As the water gushed out in a flood-like situation, at least seven villages downstream were inundated, a dozen homes washed away and around two dozen people have been reported missing.
BJP MLA Atul Bhatkhalkar asserted, “A high-level inquiry is necessary in this case. The dam was built in 2000. How did it get breached so early? It is a matter of inquiry. We should help first the injured persons in the incident.”
Additional Superintendent of Police, Ratnagiri, Vishal Gaikwad said that a search operation had been launched by the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) and state police personnel. He said, “Police have moved the villagers to safer places. The situation is under control now.” Another police officer said that the rescue operations were hampered initially due to darkness and sudden influx of water.
It is notable that heavy rains lashing Mumbai since Sunday threw rail, air and road traffic out of gear, with several trains and flights cancelled. The main runway of the Mumbai Airport is likely to remain closed for flight operations till Thursday as it will take more time to remove the SpiceJet plane. Union Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri tweeted, “Mumbai Airport has not been shut. One of the runways which used to take 45 flights per hour is now taking 36 flights. So, there has been some dislocation. It will be sorted out very quickly.”
The IMD has predicted more rain in Mumbai and parts of Maharashtra until July 5 with close to 200 mm or more rain expected per day. Private weather agency Skymet warned that Mumbai is at serious risk of flooding between July 3 and 5. It said, “Close to 200 mm or more rain per day is likely during this period, which could disrupt normal life.”
Meanwhile, Mumbai remained paralysed rainfall continued in the city for the sixth consecutive day. 22 people were killed and 78 others injured in a wall collapse incident in the northern suburb of Malad following heavy rains and most parts of the city remained waterlogged.
Shiv Sena MP from Mumbai northwest Gajanan Kirtikar said from New Delhi, “The death toll in the Malad wall collapse tragedy has increased. 22 people have died so far. 63 persons are injured in this incident.”
Two more youths died in their SUV at Malad subway as their vehicle was entrapped in deep water. Fourteen people have been killed in the rest of Maharashtra in rain-related incidents till now. The situation in Mumbai seems to be grim as air, rail and road traffic has been affected. There will be no respite from the heavy downpour as IMD has predicted heavy to very heavy rainfall in coming days.