BHOPAL/BHARUCH (TIP): The army and air force were pressed into service on Aug 23 to expedite relief and evacuation in flood-hit areas of Madhya Pradesh. At least 21 people have died in flash floods in the past 36 hours taking the toll to 106. Heavy rains have devastated at least 12 districts of the state, the worst-hit being Hoshangabad and Vidisha. More than 24,000 houses have been destroyed. And with the Narmada and Betwa rivers flowing above the danger mark, the state government has sounded an alert. Chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan chaired a high-level meeting to review the situation. All trains bound for south India, passing through Madhya Pradesh have been delayed. A 30- metre railway track between Barbatpur and Magardoh railway station in Betul was washed away early on Friday. Hoshangabad remained and cut off from the rest of the state and more than 3,000 villagers have been evacuated.
In Gujarat, the Bharuch district administration has pressed the panic button following heavy rains in the catchment areas of Narmada river in MP. The heavy influx of water from Omkareshwar dam in MP into Sardar Sarovar dam has resulted in Narmada flowing at 32 ft at the Golden Bridge, eight feet above danger mark. According to Adra Agrawal, in-charge collector of Bharuch, nearly 1,670 people living in low-lying areas of Bharuch, Ankleshwar and Jhagadia have been shifted to safer locations due to flood threat.
The administration had to use boats to shift people after Narmada waters inundated many low-lying areas in old Bharuch towns like Katopor Bazar, Furja Road, Pirkanthi, Bhrugu Rushi Temple and Dandia Bazar. An alert has been sounded in 32 villages of Bharuch, Narmada and Vadodara. Rafiq Sheikh, a shopkeeper in Pirkanthi area, said, “This is the second time this month that our areas were flooded. We have lost business in festival season.” Meanwhile, the Sardar Sarovar dam touched a new high of 129.70 meters on Aug 23. Earlier, it had touched the highest level of 129.50 meters on August 3. “The dam is overflowing since July 17. If the influx of water from Omkareshwar dam continues, the dam level is expected to touch 130.40 m by Saturday,” said PM Patel, chief engineer, Sardar Sarovar Narmada Nigam Ltd.