New Delhi: Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) workers on Tuesday staged protest by throwing crabs outside the residence of Maharashtra Water Conservation Minister Tanaji Sawant in Pune as against his statement on Ratnagiri’s Tiware dam breach. The Water Minister had said that crabs were responsible for the breach in the dam located in Ratnagiri district of Maharashtra.

News agency ANI posted a video of the workers throwing crabs at the minister’s residence.

The dam breach in Ratnagiri district on July 3 led to a flood-like situation downstream in seven downstream villages. The death toll in the incident has risen to 20 as on Tuesday and three more people are missing. Notably, two National Disaster Response Force were deployed for relief operations and rescue operation is underway.

The Water Conservation Minister Tanaji Sawant had said that a large number of crabs gathered around the dam had caused the leakage. On Thursday Sawant told reporters, “There were no leakages earlier. Leakage happened after a large number of crabs gathered around the dam. Locals brought the issue to our notice and our department acted on it. The incident is unfortunate.” When reporters asked if the construction was weak, Sawant replied that he came to know about the shoddy construction work from the farmers and villagers of the area.

Villages have been evacuated and the situation is under control now, said police. Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis has announced Rs 4-lakh compensation for the kin of each of the deceased and promised a probe saying action will be taken against anyone found guilty of negligence. He expressed his grief over the loss of lives in the incident and ordered an inquiry in the matter which will be helmed by a Special Investigation Team (SIT) under a secretary rank official. Fadnavis has also asked his Water Resources and Irrigation Minister Girish Mahajan to visit Ratnagiri and provide relief to affected families.

(With Agency inputs)