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Minister heckled in flood-hit Bharuch town

Minister of State for Tribal Development, Labour and Employment and Rural Development, Kunvarji Halpati, who is also the guardian minister of Bharuch district, faced public ire on Wednesday while on a visit to the flood-affected areas of Bharuch town after the water from Narmada river receded.

Halpati, who was accompanied by Bharuch BJP MLA Ramesh Mistry, was heckled in Dandiya Bazar area, as residents questioned the “government’s action” in flood management while expressing anguish at loss of property and the unhygienic conditions prevailing following the flood.

Halpati and the convoy accompanying him departed from the area, as the residents cornered him and questioned him about his reason for the visit.

Inflow of water into Sabarmati river in Ahmedabad Inflow of water into Sabarmati river in Ahmedabad

In videos of Halpati’s visit that have gone viral on social media, while he is seen trying to pacify the agitated people, one resident asks him, “What have you come here to see? Look at the condition of the area. After losing our properties, we are also cleaning up the place…”

Bharuch town has faced the maximum brunt of the flood, as Narmada river reached a level of 41 feet at the Golden gate on Sunday, disrupting railway traffic from Mumbai to Vadodara – one of the busiest routes connecting the south and western zone to the north.

Bharuch District Collector Tushar Sumera said the district has suffered “significant property loss” and teams of the district administration have begun a survey to ascertain the extent of damage.

“We have formed 50 teams to assess the damage of non-agricultural property as many people have suffered property loss… We will compensate them for (tangible) loss. The team is also ascertaining the number of affected persons, who will receive flood relief. Another team of surveyors will assess the agricultural damage soon…,” he added.

Sumera added that with help extended by the Vadodara Municipal Corporation, the Bharuch administration has started clean-up and sanitation work. “Forty health teams are working in flood-affected areas. Sanitation and clean-up work was taken up immediately after the flood water receded,” he said.

When contacted, MLA Mistry said, “I had accompanied Halpatiji to ward 7 of the old town area in Bharuch. People are naturally angry because the flood has caused a lot of damage in the town… They were expressing their anger and the minister was trying to assure them that the government is doing its best… I stayed back even after the minister left.”

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“The people were agitated but we are working to make their life normal again. Civic sanitation workers from Bardoli in Surat and VMC have also come to help in cleaning up the town,” he added.

Mistry said that while the district was warned that the level of Narmada river could reach 36 feet on September 16 morning, it actually recorded a level of 41 feet. Narmada river had last recorded a level of 41 feet in 1973. “The police and administration were on their feet right since the morning of September 16, evacuating the town… But there has been property damage. The district collector has formed teams for damage assessment,” he added.

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However, despite this being the biggest flood in 50 years, no human casualty or animal loss have been reported, Mistry said.

© The Indian Express (P) Ltd

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