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24 feared dead as dam breach washes away Ratnagiri villages

The Tiware dam located off the Karad-Chiplun Road, which according to residents was due for repairs, had started overflowing in the evening.

Ratnagiri villages, atnagiri village dam, dam breach, Karad-Chiplun Road, Owali, Riktoli, Aakale, Daadar, Nandivase, Kalakavane
The Tiware dam located off the Karad-Chiplun Road, which according to residents was due for repairs, had started overflowing in the evening.
Ratnagiri villages, atnagiri village dam, dam breach, Karad-Chiplun Road, Owali, Riktoli, Aakale, Daadar, Nandivase, Kalakavane
The Tiware dam located off the Karad-Chiplun Road, which according to residents was due for repairs, had started overflowing in the evening.

By Sushant Kulkarni

At least 10 people were killed and another 14 reported missing after several houses in Chiplun taluka of Ratnagiri district were swept away when the wall of the Tiware dam breached Tuesday night following heavy rains over the last 48 hours.

The Tiware dam located off the Karad-Chiplun Road, which according to residents was due for repairs, had started overflowing in the evening. Around 9.30 pm, a part of the wall was breached, causing a flood-like situation and subsequently the entire wall of the dam was ruptured from the force of the water.

The resulting tide swept away around 12 houses in the Bhendewadi hamlet which had 24 inhabitants. Further downstream, six more villages or hamlets with a population ofaround 3,000 were surrounded by flood water and physically cut-off. The affected villages or hamlets are Owali, Riktoli, Aakale, Daadar, Nandivase and Kalakavane.

Local police, fire brigade and the district administration dispatched teams to the spot which along with local residents started the search for those missing around midnight. At least 30 more people living in high-risk areas were evacuated. The National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) has been called in — one NDRF team stationed in neighbouring Sindhudurg district and five from the headquarters of 5th Battalion of the NDRF in Pune – and reached the area Wednesday at 7.30 am.

Ratnagiri’s Additional SP Vishal Gaikwad said, “The entire wall of the dam has been completely demolished by the strong force of water collected in the rivulet from numerous streams in the mountainous region. In the flooding it caused, houses in Bhendewadi hamlet, located around 300 metres from the dam were washed away. We launched search and rescue around midnight. NDRF has joined in the morning.”

Asked whether the 20-year-old dam was due for repairs, Ratnagiri district collector Sunil Chavan said, “Our priority right now is search, rescue and safety of people. But these aspects will be certainly probed, adding that “Based on complaints received or if there are orders from the government, a probe will be conducted.”

Local villagers had complained to the irrigation department about the cracks developing in the dam wall. Since May, leakages from these cracks had worsened, said residents. The dam was constructed 20 years ago on the rivulet which is a tributary of Vashishthi river. The dam capacity is 0.08 TMC (thousand million cubic feet) and collects water from the hilly region of the Western Ghats in Ratnagiri and Satara districts.

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