Mumbai, August 4:
Authorities in flood-hit western India stepped up rescue and relief operations today as thousands of people were evacuated from low-lying areas because of threats from overflowing dams. By yesterday, a total of 100,000 people living next to rain-swollen rivers, lakes and dams across Maharashtra state had been moved to higher ground, local police and government officials said. Krishna Vatse, the head of the Maharashtra disaster management cell, said following the record monsoon rains around Indiaâ€™s financial capital Mumbai in recent days many dams were dangerously swollen. â€œA huge amount of water is being let out from these dams flooding the low-lying areas. We have evacuated 100,000 villagers from these areas to safer places,â€ Vatse told AFP.
Western India has been pummelled by heavy rains in recent weeks which police say have killed over 1,020 people. Damage has been estimated at nearly $900 million. Between July 26 and 27, a record 944 mm of rain fell on the stricken region shutting down the countryâ€™s main stock exchange, financial institutions and schools. Vatse said over 10,000 rescue personnel were currently deployed across the region to deal with flood relief, with troops and navy personnel helping local officials and volunteers. In the Maharashtra state capital Mumbai, officials said roads were functioning as normal but that train services were still disrupted because of damage caused to the tracks. Commuters packed trains and buses to reach offices as an army of municipal workers continued to clear garbage, repair pot-holed roads and restore electricity and water supplies. Kamini Kapadia, regional manager of ActionAid International, said there was an acute shortage of relief materials such as sleeping mats, clothes and medicines in the camps where villagers from flooded regions are sheltered.