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Floods set alarm bells ringing for Mayawati

By Sharat Pradhan in Luchnow
August 27, 2008 17:51 IST
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Alarmed over the worsening flood situation in parts of the state, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati summoned her officials to take stock of the prevailing position in the 21 flood-affected districts of India's most populous state.

Sounding an alert, the chief minister has issued directives to all concerned district magistrates to ensure timely relief to the 16.5 million flood-affected population.

What set alarm bells ringing at the highest level were the rising waters of the Gomti river inundating the posh Gomti Nagar in Lucknow and threatening to make inroads into Mayawati's dream project -- the Rs 1,000-crore Ambedkar park-cum-memorial.

Even as a number of pumps were installed in low-lying areas in the state capital, officials were keeping their fingers crossed. The fear more rains could add to the  adding to the misery of the flood hit people .

The worst-hit district was Sitapur, where 56 people had perished on account of the recent heavy rains and floods. The toll rose to 725 since the current monsoon broke out on June 1.

"Most of the deaths had occurred due to collapse of houses in rural areas," state relief commissioner G K Tandon told

According to him, "Even though there has been some respite in the rainfall over the past four days, most of the major rivers continue to flow above the danger level."

These include the Ganga, Ghaghra, Sharda which have been flowing above the danger level for more than 40 days, while Gomti was threatening to touch the danger mark at Lucknow.

"Flooding of some 3,691 villages has occurred either due to absence of embankments or on account of breaches in the existing embankments, while as many as 674 villages continued to remain marooned," said Tandon, who was the nodal officer for the state's disaster management.

The government had estimated the overall loss close to Rs 200 crore. "But this was bound to go up over the next few days," said the official.

As many as 150 motorised boats were being operated under the supervision of some 1,700 state para military personnel including divers, to assist the flood affected people in inundated or marooned areas. Besides, 1792 private hand-rowed boats had been pressed into service to ferry people in and around the flood affected villages.

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Sharat Pradhan in Luchnow