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Floods ravage Vadodara city again

Manas Dasgupta

70,000 people evacuated from villages on the banks of the Mahi, the Vatrak and other rivers in spate



HAND OF HELP: An Indian Air Force personnel rescues a woman and a child in Vadodara on Sunday. — PHOTO: AP

SURAT: After Surat, it is again the turn of Vadodara city. For the third time during the current monsoon, large parts of Vadodara city have been submerged by floodwaters of the Viswamitri, while the swirling waters of the Bhukhi causeway has turned the western parts of the city into a veritable lake.

While the people, administration and voluntary organisations from all over the State are engaged in bringing Surat back to normality, Vadodara is reeling under another bout of heavy floods.

Even as the water level in the Mahi receded following the reduction in discharge from the Vanakbori dam, the Viswamitri, running through the middle of Vadodara city, is flowing more than four feet above the danger level, spilling into housing colonies on both sides. What normally remains dry all through the year and looks like a small drainage channel, the Bhukhi causeway has also brought misery to localities in the western parts of the city. Many parts of Vadodara are under about four feet of water from either the Viswamitri or the Bhukhi causeway.

Official sources have so far confirmed 91 deaths in Surat, while unofficial sources put the toll at over 250. The locals alleged that at least 112 people were killed in Rabia Manzil, the four-storey house in Randher locality that collapsed in the floods. The official sources, however, said that only 39 bodies were recovered.

Rescued

In central Gujarat, Army jawans rescued nine persons from a tree outside Gambhira village in Vadodara district, while Indian Air Force helicopters airlifted some 200 people trapped on the rooftop of a temple in Dabka village. About 70,000 people, evacuated from villages on the banks of the Mahi, the Vatrak and other rivers in spate, were being kept in makeshift relief camps.

In Surat, where clean and potable water has become the most sought after commodity, the rates of water supply through tankers have skyrocketed. A 10,000-litre water tanker, which normally is available at Rs. 400, now costs anything between Rs. 1,800 to Rs. 2,400. Though water supply has partially been restored by the municipal corporation, the quality of water leaves much to be desired . "It can be used only to wash away the mud accumulated in houses and nothing more," local residents say.

The official spokesman said power supply had been restored to over 90 per cent of the city, while about 80,000 of the 1.20 lakh telephone connections had been restored.

Governmental efforts in tackling the flood situation, have, however, come under criticism not only by the Opposition Congress but also from within the ruling BJP.

Several BJP leaders, including the former Chief Minister, Keshubhai Patel, the former Union Minister, Kashiram Rana, and Surat MLA Dhirubhai Gajera, feel that the State administration has been found wanting.

Mr. Patel said most of the relief material had gone waste. The food packets and water pouches air-dropped had not reached the needy. During the Kutch earthquake in 2001, the administration under him had risen to the occasion in providing relief. The present Government should have prepared "food kits" and supplied them with the help of boats to the affected people.

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