New Delhi: Weather disturbance over the past couple of days led to dust and thunderstorms through west, central and north India which claimed 64 lives in the country, with most casualties reported from Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh.
While Rajasthan reported 25 deaths, Madhya Pradesh 21 and Gujarat 10, three people have died in Maharashtra since Monday. There were also reports of crop damage in Madhya Pradesh and Punjab due to hailstorm and thunder.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi took to Twitter on Wednesday to express anguish over the loss of lives in Gujarat and announce relief. When MP Chief Minister Kamal Nath pointed out how the PM could be concerned only with his state, the PM’s Office tweeted again, “PM @narendramodi has expressed grief at loss of lives due to unseasonal rains and storms in MP, Rajasthan, Manipur & various parts of the country.”
A leading daily quoted an official of the Indian Meteorological Department as saying that an intense western disturbance clashing with an easterly wave from Bay of Bengal caused lightning. He said though the dust and thunderstorms were not intense in nature, they were spread over a large area, adding to the casualties.
He said the weather will start getting drier in most parts, except in east India, from Thursday.
Meanwhile the PMO has announced an ex-gratia of Rs 2 lakh each for the next of kin of those who lost their lives in the unseasonal rain and storms across the country from the PM’s National Relief Fund. It also announced Rs 50,000 each for the injured.
States have also announced relief, with Rajasthan and MP governments promising compensation of Rs 4 lakh each to the next of kin of those who lost their lives while Gujarat announced a compensation of Rs 2 lakh.
In Madhya Pradesh, apart from those dead, over two dozen people were reported injured while standing and harvested crop in Indore and Ujjain divisions were reported damaged.
Rajasthan’s worst affected districts were Jalore, Jaisalmer, Barmer, Jodhpur, Pali, Kota, Jhalawar, Baran, Dausa and Alwar. The toll in rain-related mishaps across the state since Tuesday has risen to 25.
The state has reportedly created a WhatsApp group of the district collectors of the worst-hit districts for better coordination on relief work. Many incidents of wall collapse, uprooting of trees, electric and telephonic cables, were reported.
In Gujarat, storms were reported from districts in the north and Saurashtra region. “A total of 10 deaths have been reported from different districts since Tuesday,” the daily quoted a state emergency operations centre official as saying.