Under fire from Opposition for 'inadequate' response to devastating floods in western Maharashtra, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said on Saturday that the rainfall was unprecedented with the Sangli district getting 785 per cent of average rain in just nine days.
Addressing a press conference here, he defended rescue and relief efforts as well as minister Girish Mahajan who got into a soup after his selfie in a rescue boat went viral.
During the 2005 floods in the state, Sangli district got 217 per cent of average rain in a month; this time there was 758 per cent rainfall in just nine days, Fadnavis said.
Kolhapur had got 159 per cent rain in a month in 2005; it received 480 per cent rain in nine days this time, he added.
The Koyna reservoir received fifty tmc (thousand million cubic feet) water in nine days, he said, adding "the unprecedented rainfall was more than double that of what was experienced in 2005."
"In the last five to seven years, due to climate change we are seeing excessive rain in short duration. If the amount of rain (received this week) in these two districts (Kolhapur and Sangli) had been spread over 40 days, it would not have caused problem," the chief minister said.
In Sangli district, 95 boats rescued 28,537 families in 101 villages while 35,000 animals were evacuated, he said.
In the rescue boat capsize incident at Bramhmanal, 12 people drowned and eight were missing, but no deaths were reported from elsewhere in Sangli, Fadnavis said.
Crops on 27,468 hectares have been affected and 484 km of roads were damaged in the district, he said.
Once the water levels fall, restoring water supply and electricity connections will be the priority, he said.
In Kolhapur and Sangli districts, 3,78,000 people were evacuated and 306 shelter camps were set up, he informed.
As to the criticism that rescue and relief operations began late, he said the operations could not be undertaken in the first two days because of rising water levels.
About the flak faced by Water Resources Minister Girish Mahajan who appeared in selfie-video while touring flooded areas in a boat, Fadnavis said Mahajan managed to reach the remotest village, and while on the way back someone shot the video and pictures which were circulated as selfie.
"Everybody should stick to a protocol," he added.
"I was asked if I wanted to review rescue operations in a boat. I refused as two boats would have been needed for my security detail and it would have hampered rescue operations. My job is to give directions and explain to local administration what decisions are being taken at the government's level," he said.
About criticism of stickers bearing pictures of him and a local BJP legislator on bags of rice and wheat meant for flood victims, Fadnavis said there was no need for pictures, only the Maharashtra government should have been mentioned.
On the row over the government resolution (GR) that compensation will be paid only if the area was under water for two days, Fadnavis said, "This is a revised GR, the earlier one from January 2014 said seven days. We have clarified that the two-day condition did not mean one should have been in flood water for two days."
The financial aid has been increased from earlier range of Rs 2,500 to Rs 5,000 to Rs 10,000 to Rs 15,000 and compensation in cash will be given wherever needed, he said.
The family of the deceased was given Rs 1.5 lakh which has been increased to Rs 5 lakh, he noted. Assistance in case of destruction of house due to floods has been increased to Rs 1 lakh from Rs 60,000, he added.
After the floods recede, clean-up and preventing spread of diseases would be a challenge, he said, adding that a team of one doctor and two pharmacists would be sent to every village with necessary medicines.
The neighbouring Karnataka government, despite dealing with floods in that state, was co-operating with Maharashtra by discharging water from Almatti dam, Fadnavis noted.
Opposition should not to politicize the floods, he said. "If there are mistakes, they should point out, we will rectify. Everybody needs to come together in the present situation," the chief minister said.
On MNS chief Raj Thackeray's demand that coming assembly polls be postponed in view of floods, he said the state government has no role in deciding this, and the Election Commission will take appropriate decision after reviewing the situation.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)