Sunday, July 08, 2007

Rain fury in MP: Rail, road traffic hit; Army help sought

Bhopal, July 07: Heavy rains continued to pound Madhya Pradesh today, disrupting train and road traffic and throwing life out of gear as swollen rivers and rain water submerged many areas in nearly a dozen districts. The flood-like situation was reviewed by Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan who directed officials to ensure proper relief and rehabilitation to the people affected by incessant rains, which claimed three lives since yesterday.

Train services on New Delhi-Chennai route were disrupted following track-blockade due to landslides caused by rains near Betul, officials said, adding trains were diverted via Itarsi and Nagpur as a massive operation was launched to clear the tracks for restoration of normal traffic. Vehicular movements on many roads, including national highways, were paralysed due to breaches at several places caused by continuous rains and overflowing rivers and rivulets, while a part of the 57-km-long newly constructed railway tracks in Khandwa district was submerged, they said.

Badly hit were districts like Khandwa, Rajgarh, Khargone, Harda, Betul, Dhar, Ujjain, Chhindwara, Hoshangabad, Balaghat and Guna. Road link between the state capital and Indore was snapped due to overflowing waters from two rivers near Astha and Sonkachch. In Khandwa, over 600 families were marooned due to backwaters from Indira Sagar dam in Choti Chagaon and Chagaon Makan villages, Sub-Divisional Magistrate Prakash Vyas said, adding residents of eight villages have been asked to move to safe places.

Army assistance was sought for carrying out relief and rehabilitation work in Harda district, where 20 villages were submerged by flood water, Revenue Minister Kamal Patel, who toured the affected areas, told reporters at Betul. Helicopters were also sought for distribution of food packets and relief materials in the flood-hit areas, he said.

Over 400 families were affected as rain water inundated low-lying areas in Khandwa city. Road links with Indore, Khargone, Harda, Harsud and Burhanpur were cut off, leaving a large number of people stranded at several places. Notwithstanding rain water flooding newly erected rail tracks near Talwadia Khirkia, railways officials claimed it did not affect traffic though trains moved at a slow pace. They also denied submergence of tracks by backwaters of Indira Sagar dam.

In Rajgarh district, about 5,000 flood-hit people were shifted to relief camps at Biaora, while 500 houses were damaged in the area where over 12 villages faced submergence, Sub-Divisional Magistrate R N Kushwaja said. Chambal river was in spate in Ujjain division, inundating vast areas including crucial roads in Nagda, Khachrod, Mahidpur, Badnagar and Makshi, while low-lying areas on the bank of Kshipra river in Ujjain city got submerged. Nine relief camps were opened for the affected people. The swollen Tapti river was flowing three feet above a bridge at Athner in Betul, while Machna river flooded parts of the national highway connecting Bhopal and Nagpur at Shahpur paralysing vehicular movement.

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