Mumbai: The Mumbai-Bengaluru National Highway, which was closed since last six days due to flooding, was partially opened for traffic in Maharashtra's Kolhapur district on Monday after the water receded, an official said.
Traffic movement was allowed between Kolhapur and Belgaum in Karnataka through one lane on Shiroli bridge of the six-lane NH-4, where thousands of vehicles were stuck after the busy highway was submerged in floodwaters last week.
"The water level has come down and Shiroli bridge can be used for vehicular movement. We have so far decided to open only one lane on either side of the national highway as a precautionary measure," Kolhapur's Superintendent of Police Abhinav Deshmukh said.
There was still some water flowing over the bridge, but it was expected to recede as a continuous discharge of water from Almatti dam in neighbouring Karnataka was on, an official at the Kolhapur collectorate said.
Thousands of trucks carrying essential commodities were stranded since last week on the flood-hit highway, which is a vital road link between Maharashtra and Karnataka.
Traffic movement was allowed on Monday morning between Kolhapur and Belgaum in Karnataka through one lane on either side of Shiroli bridge on the six-lane busy NH-4, Kolhapur's Superintendent of Police Abhinav Deshmukh told PTI.
"Initially, the highway has been opened for heavy vehicles, especially those carrying essential commodities like food grains, fuel, medicines, and milk," he said. "A portion of the highway is still submerged up to 1.5 feet under the floodwaters, but we decided to allow heavy vehicles to ply as Kolhapur city has been struggling to get the essential commodities," he added.
A portion of the Mumbai-Bengaluru NH-4 was also submerged under the floodwaters, forcing authorities to close it for traffic the first time last week. Meanwhile, Deshmukh dismissed rumours doing the rounds of social media that cracks developed on the highway's bridge located on the Panchganga River. "We have inspected the spot and it is not a crack but an expansion gap. Still, the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) will carry out a structural audit before a full-fledged resumption of traffic on the highway," he said.
The NCP also sent a team of 50 doctors to provide medical assistance in the flood-affected areas and undertake measures to prevent a breakout of any epidemic.
Kolhapur and Sangli districts have been battling unprecedented floods since last eight days following heavy rains in Konkan and western parts of the state where 40 people have lost their lives in the deluge.
The water level of the Panchganga River, a major tributary of the Krishna river, flowing through Kolhapur came down by almost one foot overnight, but it was still flowing at the danger mark of 49 feet, the official said.
"Rains have stopped in the Panchganga's catchment areas but some discharge is still going on from dams into the river. Once the water-level goes down further, roads in Kolhapur will be opened for vehicular movement," he said.
Over five lakh cusec of water was being discharged from Almatti dam on the Krishna River in Karnataka to ease the flood situation in western Maharashtra, he added. Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Sunday conducted an aerial survey of the flood-hit areas in Satara, Sangli and Kolhapur districts.
Around 105 teams of the Army, Air Force, Navy, National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), the Coast Guard, State Disaster Response Force (SDRF), police and local officials were carrying out rescue operations in the western Maharashtra region, officials said.
While 54 rescue teams were deployed in Kolhapur, 51 were working in Sangli, they said. Nearly 4.48 lakh people were so far evacuated from flood-hit areas across the state, including 4.04 lakh from Kolhapur and Sangli. They were shifted to 372 temporary camps and shelters, a senior state official said on Sunday.
Members of the Muslim community from Sangli and Kolhapur decided to celebrate the festival of Eid-al-Adha on Monday without fanfare, and donate for the flood victims. Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis on Sunday said each flood-hit family in the state will be given Rs 5,000 cash while rest of the financial assistance will be deposited in their respective bank accounts.
Updated Date: Aug 12, 2019 14:22:33 IST