Pune rain: angry protesters heckle Guardian Minister
A day after intense showers ravaged several parts of Pune district, Guardian Minister Chandrakant Patil faced the ire of citizens on Friday, even as the death toll across the district rose to 18.Speaking here after surveying the worst-hit spots in the city and the district, Mr. Patil blamed illegal constructions and encroachments for the flash deluge that resulted in massive damage to property and loss of life.“Illegal constructions and encroachments on various canals have diverted the natural flow of streams, which led to water entering residential societies and wrecking property. The causes for these constructions have to be investigated. Moreover, why weren’t basic security measures followed at the time of these constructions?” Mr. Patil asked. Team to probe disasterHe said a team comprising senior IAS officials would be constituted to investigate the disaster. He also said all relief measures for the rain-affected in Pune would be applicable under the government resolution (GR) issued at the time of the Kolhapur and Sangli floods.On Thursday, when the city was coping with the rain damage, the Guardian Minister was in Delhi to iron out the seat-sharing issues between the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Shiv Sena for the elections.Earlier, irate protesters blocked Mr. Patil’s convoy near Tangewala Society in Aranyeshwar area, prompting him and his entourage to leave the spot after barely 15 minutes. Five people died after the society’s compound wall collapsed owing to the relentless downpour. Protesters demanded to know what Mr. Patil was doing in Delhi when the city was being battered by flash floods.Urging him to go back, they said the Guardian Minister’s belated visit was merely a photo opportunity.Mr. Patil said those heckling him were mere “troublemakers” hired by the opposition parties. “There were no problems whatsoever. I was [at Tangewala Society] for 20-25 minutes. Genuine citizens told me about their problems. The rest were troublemakers hired by opposition parties.” He said because the model code of conduct is in place for the Assembly elections, he was compelled to put things before the aggrieved citizens in a restrained manner.Toll up to 18Meanwhile, the death toll across the district rose to 18 with at least four people still missing. There were unconfirmed reports of two more bodies being recovered, indicating a likely rise in the number of the deaths.More than 3,000 people in the city are lodged in transit camps, while teams of the fire department and nearly 2,000 municipal workers carried out cleanliness drives and relief operations.Despite the India Meteorological Department’s (IMD) warnings of likely heavy rain on the intervening night of Thursday and Friday, the weather remained calm throughout the better part of Friday. Schools and colleges across the city and four other tehsils of the district remained shut following a precautionary directive of the Pune District Collector.According to a release issued on Friday afternoon, the IMD has forecast light to moderate rain on Friday night to be followed by light rain over the weekend.