Rain, floods wreak havoc in Uttar Pradesh, army deployed

September 23rd, 2008 - 5:13 pm ICT by IANS  

Lucknow, Sep 23 (IANS) The army has been called out to assist the Uttar Pradesh civil authorities after torrential rains combined with flooded rivers wreaked havoc in India’s most populous state, claiming 14 more lives, taking the toll to over 1,100 this monsoon season.Twenty three of the state’s 71 districts have been hit by floods so far, affecting 2.5 million people. Floodwaters have also entered the Dudhwa National Park, northern India’s second largest tiger reserve.

“Fourteen more deaths were reported from certain areas since last evening, taking the toll to 1,102,” state relief commissioner G.K. Tandon told IANS Tuesday. “The toll could go up considering that reports of deaths often get delayed from far-flung villages.”

A heavy downpour across the sprawling state over the weekend along with the release of excess water from dams in certain Nepal-fed rivers has affected Barabanki, Gonda and Lakhimpur-Kheri districts, where over 500 villages have been marooned since Monday.

“Boats have once again been pressed into service to evacuate many people from freshly inundated areas, particularly in Lakhimpur-Kheri, where a breach in an embankment Monday led to the marooning of at least a dozen villages.”

More trouble is clearly in store, with met officials predicting another round of heavy downpour in large parts of eastern Uttar Pradesh.

The local authorities requisitioned the army late Monday after gushing flood waters inundated more areas, including part of the highway connecting Gonda to the state headquarters here.

“Excess water flow from the upper reaches of Ghaghra and Sarda rivers coming from Nepal are likely to worsen the situation in Lakhimpur-Kheri, Gonda and Barabanki over the next 48 hours,” Tandon said.

Floodwaters have reportedly also entered parts of the Dudhwa National Park, about 250 km from here.

“Parts of the forest area have got cut off on account of the flood waters, but we are maintaining a constant vigil to prevent any danger to wildlife,” park director Uma Shankar Singh told IANS.

According to Tandon, “About 57,000 people have been evacuated to safer places ever since the monsoon broke out and unleashed the fury of the waters.”

“We had heaved a sigh of relief after all the major rivers, including the Ganga, Yamuna, Ghaghra, Sarda, Rapti and Gomti, started receding about two weeks back; but another bout of heavy rains over the weekend has led to renewed devastation.”

“More than 350,000 houses were damaged on account of the rain and floods and most lives were lost on account of house collapses in rural areas.”

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