Lucknow: At least 165 villages have been completely cut off from their respective district headquarters due to the rising river levels, following heavy rains over the past few days. Train services in several districts came to a grinding halt as surging floodwaters in Uttar Pradesh inundated 1,245 villages across 23 districts forcing hundreds of thousands of people to take shelters in makeshift relief camps, officials said on Thursday.
Nearly six lakh people have been affected by the floods in the state till Thursday, August 12, as per official data of the state's Disaster and Relief Department. The number of affected people is increasing every day. There were 2.62 lakh flood-affected people on August 10, which increased to more than 3 lakh on August 12. The unofficial figures have said that more than 8 lakh people have been affected in the state.
A report from the Relief Commissioner's office said that a population of 5,46,049 in 1,243 villages in 23 districts is affected by floods. According to the reports of the Irrigation department, river Ganga is flowing above the danger mark in Budaun, Prayagraj, Mirzapur, Varanasi, Ghazipur and Ballia, while Yamuna river is above the red mark in Auraiya, Jalaun, Hamirpur, Banda and Prayagraj.
Mirzapur (407 villages), Prayagraj (174), Jalaun (118), Banda (84), Hamirpur (79), Ballia (69) and Varanasi (64) were among the worst hit.
In the past 24 hours, an average of 13.1 mm rainfall was recorded in the state, which is 154% more than normal. "Eleven districts including Prayagraj, Chitrakoot, Kaushambi, Pratapgarh, Basti, Gonda, Sultanpur, Shrawasti, Lucknow, Raebareli and Fatehpur received rainfall of over 25 mm or more in the past 24 hours", the official statement said.
Authorities in the flood-hit districts have asked people living in vulnerable and low-lying areas to shift to safer places following the rising water level in the rivers. The state government has asked engineers and district officials to keep around the clock vigil.
The flood situation is grim in several other districts including Hamirpur, Banda, Etawah, Jalaun, Varanasi, Kaushambi, Chandauli, Ghazipur, Auraiya, Kanpur Dehat, Kanpur Nagar, Prayagraj, Farrukhabad, Agra, Ballia, Mirzapur, Gorakhpur, Sitapur, Mau, Kheri, Bahraich, Gonda, Kanpur Nagar, Fatehpur, Baghpat, Shahjahanpur and Deoria.
The state's Relief Central Commission officials have said that all major rivers including Ganga, Yamuna, Sharda, Mandakini, Rapit, Betwa, Kwano and Chambal are maintaining the rising trend and most of them are flowing above the danger mark at several places in different flood-prone districts. Floods in Prayagraj and Varanasi have affected more than two lakh people as thousands have been rendered homeless. Many have taken shelter in relief camps.
The state government has deployed nine teams of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) in nine districts, 11 teams of the State Disaster Response Force (SDRF) in 11 districts and 39 teams of the Provincial Armed Constabulary (PAC) in 39 districts for relief and rescue operations, the relief commissioner said.
The NDRF and SDRF teams have rescued 600 people so far and 504 medical teams were deployed in the flood-hit areas, he added. Besides, 11,235 flood posts and 940 flood shelters were set up in the state and 1,463 boats pressed into service for relief and rescue operations, he said.
Prem Singh, an agriculture expert based in Banda, one of the worst affected regions said that the flood has destroyed several thousand acres of paddy crops so far, besides spoiling vegetable crops and menthol.
"It is not only villagers and their livestock that have been badly hit by floods, stray animals are also not left unaffected by the flood. The situation is grim from Banda to Ballia. The condition of embankments at various places is very bad. This reflects the laxity on the part of the state government. We demand that the state government should declare the flood as a calamity, and also announce compensation for the loss of lives and crops,” he told NewsClick.
Meanwhile, Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath conducted an aerial survey of flood-affected areas of Hamirpur and Jalaun. He expressed condolences to the families of four persons who lost their lives in the floods in the region and assured all possible help. He also said that community kitchens have been formed to supply cooked food to those families whose houses have been submerged in floodwater.
In the Prime Minister’s parliamentary constituency, Varanasi, floodwater has entered many of the residential areas and relief material is being distributed through boats. However, in Jalaun and Hamirpur districts of Bundelkhand, the army was called to rescue flood victims and supply relief material.
District magistrate of Varanasi, Sanjay Kumar, said that the river was one meter (3.3 feet) above its danger mark in the area and thousands of people had been rescued.
VN Mishra, head of Varanasi’s Sankat Mochan Temple said that the situation in Varanasi is grim and people in the low-lying areas have lost sleep as water level continues to rise at an alarming pace. Spells of heavy rain for the last three days has added to the woes of the people.
Similarly, people in Prayagraj are struggling for essential commodities after the situation in the region became worse due to floods.
Ayushman, along with four members of his family, has been waiting for the government's help. He says that no arrangements have been made for them, and they have been in dire need of food and other basic facilities at the relief camp.