BENGALURU/MADIKERI: With the rains letting up, rescue and relief operations gained momentum in the worst-affected Kodagu district on Saturday. Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy took stock of the situation by conducting an aerial survey. Meanwhile, the death toll due to rains over the last three days has touched eight.
The CM flew in an IAF helicopter from HAL airport in Bengaluru for an aerial survey of Kodagu and Mysuru districts and landed at Periyapatna.
“We will provide homes to all of you and there is no need for worry. Within two to three months, you will all be rehabilitated,” the CM told some 250 people housed at a relief camp in Maithri Hall in Madikeri.
He also announced Rs 5 lakh compensation to the kin of those who have died due to floods and financial assistance to rebuild houses. Over 800 houses were damaged due to rains. Even as the CM was reassuring people of all assistance, the Army and other agencies were making all efforts to rescue stranded villagers as helicopters could not take off due to inclement weather. The intensity of rainfall is expected to reduce in the next two days, but windy conditions are expected to prevail.
Isolated spells of heavy rainfall are also forecast, which may affect the rescue and relief activity being carried out in the district. “Two deaths were reported at Jodupala on Saturday,” said Deputy Commissioner Sreevidya P I, while rubbishing rumours about Harangi Dam developing a crack and an earthquake in the district, which were doing rounds in social media.
Volunteers are also coming out in large numbers to help stranded people in Kodagu by providing relief materials.
Earlier in the day, before embarking on the aerial survey, the CM announced that a team headed by the Chief Secretary will directly monitor relief efforts in flood-affected districts. He also said they will analyze the causes for landslides and take preventive measures.
Kumaraswamy also directed officials not to give permission for conversion of lands — from agriculture to non-agricultural purposes — in the Western Ghats. The CM cancelled his scheduled visit to Chikkamagaluru and Shivamogga on Sunday will continue to tour Kodagau district and oversee rescue and relief operations.
As the helicopter used by the CM had to be pressed into a mission to rescue 60 people, he decided to stay in Mysuru on Saturday night and visit Kodagu again on Sunday morning, according to CMO officials.
Union Minister D V Sadanada Gowda, who visited rain-affected areas, said he had never seen a disaster. “Over 40 villages have been washed off and the damage is unimaginable.
I am told that there are few bodies stuck under some landslides, but we cannot get the exact number of people dead and stranded,” he said and assured of all support from the Centre.
Meanwhile, in Ballari district, water entered temples at the world heritage site Hampi. On Saturday, 1,50,000 cusecs of water was released from Tungabhadra dam in Hospet, resulting in damage to crops in many villages.
ULB election postponed
The State Election Commission has postponed the elections to Kushalnagar, Virajapet and Somwarpet town municipalities scheduled to be held on August 31 due to heavy rains in the district. Fresh dates are yet to be announced.