MAHARASHTRA : With rains relenting in most areas, water levels in western Maharashtra’s flood-hit districts receded further on Monday bringing much respite in affected areas.
In further relief, the approach roads on either side of the Panchganga bridge, near the entrance to Kolhapur city, along the Mumbai-Bengaluru national highway (NH4) were partially reopened to traffic after being inaccessible for six days.
Just as the situation improves, the extent of the damage will be worrying for the state’s coffers, already reeling under a severe financial crisis. Nearly 4.7 lakh people are in relief camps.
An initial assessment of the damage, based on satellite imagery, has revealed extensive crop and livestock losses, besides government and private property damages. With over 400 kilometres of road network inundated, officials said the floods have also taken a heavy toll on public infrastructure.
With Assembly polls due in October this year, the Devendra Fadnavis government, which has come under fire from the Opposition for its alleged delayed handling of rescue operation, is keen to expedite rebuilding efforts in flood-hit areas.
Even as a comprehensive loss assessment exercise is yet to be carried out, sources said the state Cabinet is likely to approve a memorandum seeking immediate interim financial assistance from the Centre for rebuilding efforts.
Neighbouring Karnataka, which has also been severely hit, has already approached the Narendra Modi government for an interim assistance package of Rs 3,000 crore. On the same lines, sources said the Maharashtra government too is likely to seek immediate assistance from the Centre.
On Monday, the state relief and rehabilitation department was updating information about the losses suffered across sectors to make the proposal more detailed.
Sources said Maharashtra’s initial demand from the Centre will also be to the tune of Rs 3,000-4,000 crore.
With more than 45 sugar factories that can crush 216.5 lakh tonne of sugarcane crop, Sangli and Kolhapur are among the leading districts in sugarcane production in Maharashtra. Out of the 2.5 lakh hectare under cane cultivation in these areas, a preliminary assessment has revealed that over 1 lakh hectare has been ravaged. With the floods impacting parts of north Maharashtra as well, cotton and soyabean cultivation have also been heavily damaged. In Konkan and western Maharashtra, mango and pomegranate orchards too have suffered losses. The overall crop loss is spread over 2 lakh hectare, an official said.
Maharashtra’s memorandum to the Centre will also seek assistance for recouping losses suffered in the public infrastructure sector. With flood levels rising up to 57 ft at one point, the government’s preliminary estimates suggest that more than 400 km of Maharashtra’s road network has been damaged. Further, sources said that almost all percolation tanks and minor irrigation structures in the inundated regions will need urgent repairs. Floods have also inflicted extensive damage on the power supply network, healthcare infrastructure and schools.
The discharge of water from the Almatti dam in Karnataka and the Koyna dam in Maharashtra were raised to 5,40,000 cusec and 48,893 cusec respectively on Monday, allowing floodwaters to recede faster from both states.