Rains wreak havoc in Maharashtra (Lead)

August 29th, 2011 - 7:53 pm ICT by IANS  

Mumbai, Aug 29 (IANS) At least 15 people were killed across Maharashtra over the last two days due to heavy rains, which continued to lash large parts of the state for the fourth consecutive day Monday, officials said.

While one person was killed in a minor landslide in Tardeo, south Mumbai, four persons were washed away in floods in Thane, and two in Raigad, police said.

There were reports of similar stray casualties from other parts of the state where heavy rains continued, at times accompanied by gusty winds and thunderstorm.

Even as normal life was thrown out of gear since Saturday in Mumbai, the weather bureau has forecast more heavy rains in the city over the next 48 hours (till Wednesday).

Predicting winds reaching speeds of 40-45 kmph and even 55 kmph, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) Monday afternoon issued a warning to fishermen not to venture out into the rough seas for the next 24 hours.

Besides Mumbai, heavy rainfall has been forecast for the state’s coastal Konkan region, Goa, northern-central and eastern parts of Maharashtra over the next 24 hours.

As a consequence of the incessant downpour, Mumbai was partially paralysed Monday morning with suburban train services on the Central Railway suspended after tracks were submerged under water in many areas.

Several lakhs of commuters and students were stranded at various stations for over five hours till afternoon when skeletal services were resumed.

Waterlogging was reported at roads near several station areas, creating massive traffic snarls.

Long-distance train services on Mumbai-Pune, Mumbai-Ahmedabad, Mumbai-Goa and other sectors was hit as trains were delayed, cancelled, short-terminated or merged.

Festival traffic on the eve of the 10-day Ganeshotsav (starting Thursday) was badly affected, with traffic on Mumbai-Goa highway crawling. Ditto was the situation on the Mumbai-Pune sectors as heavy traffic jams delayed holiday-makers headed to Pune, the alternate Ganeshotsav capital.

Thousands of passengers arriving from or departing to different destinations all over the country had a harrowing time as road and rail services were hit badly.

However, unlike Sunday, Mumbai Airport reported normal services Monday, though there were a couple of incoming delays on account of a plane skidding off the runway in Kochi.

Public schools were ordered closed for the day while many private schools also shut down due to poor attendance after students were stranded in the rains.

However, the heavy downpour has spelt good news for farmers and industries as all the major and minor dams in coastal, western, northern and eastern Maharashtra were filled to the brim.

“With good rainfall, we don’t anticipate any problems on the power generation front for next year,” an official of Maharashtra State Electricity Board said.

A minor to medium deficit in rainfall across the state till last week was wiped out in the past four days, which means sufficient water for agriculture, industrial, power generation and drinking purposes, he explained.

In fact, some of the major dams like Koyna Dam, which is the backbone of the state’s power sector, has been releasing excess water since Monday morning.

Besides Koyna Dam, excess water has also been released from other dams in Thane, Satara, Ratnagiri, Nashik, Jalna, Amravati, Akola and Bhandara districts of the state.

The Mumbai Fire Brigade rushed to the rescue of 33 people who were stranded in a private resort in Palghar (Thane district) since Sunday, an official said.

In view of the anticipated heavy rains over the next 48 hours, the disaster management centres at the state, district and local levels, besides other agencies have been placed on high alert.

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