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Nisarga leaves trail of damage in Maharashtra

Last week, a severe cyclonic storm made landfall around 100 km south of Alibag, an elite resort town and a fishing village in Maharashtra’s coastal district of Raigad.

Updated: Jun 06, 2020 23:51 IST

By Tanushree Venkatraman, Hindustan Times Mumbai

A damaged tree at Kashid beach after Cyclone Nisarga battered the Raigad district.

In Shahabaj village, 17km from Alibag, 28-year-old Ashwini Bhagat and her husband Tanmay are surveying the damage to the roof. Residents of Mumbai, the duo visited their village two months ago and were forced to stay back after the national lockdown was announced on March 25.

Last week, a severe cyclonic storm made landfall around 100 km south of Alibag, an elite resort town and a fishing village in Maharashtra’s coastal district of Raigad. At least 500,000 homes, including the Bhagats’ village home, have been damaged by Nisarga in Raigad district alone though a red alert was sounded for seven Konkan districts as well as a few in northern Maharshtra, as well. At least 5000 hectares in Palghar, and 8000 hectares of agricultural cropland in Ratnagiri, Sindhudurg, Raigad and Nashik among other districts have been affected, including farms growing onions and grapes.

“The roof of our house has been damaged and we have been living without electricity or water supply for four days now,” Bhagat said. They have been using the invertor for an hour daily, during which time all nine members of their family charge their phones. Water supply has been affected too, Bhagat added.

“Officials are saying it will take minimum four days for power supply to be restored. We have been finding it very difficult,” Tanmay said.

On Friday, chief minister Uddhav Thackeray visited areas of Alibag and announced ₹100 crore for immediate relief work. The Maharashtra State Electricity Distribution Company Limited (MSEDCL) said that it is working on a war-footing to restore electricity. More than more than 200,000 trees and 15,000 poles have collapsed.

The day before the cyclone was to make landfall, the state evacuated several thousand people from the coastline, including 13, 245 in Raigad and 15,080 in Palghar. So while the destruction to life has been minimal -- only six persons have died, and 16 injured across districts -- damage to mobile towers, trees and electricity has been tremendous.

In Thal, 8km from Alibag, Mukund Sapre has lost an acre of his farm, completely destroying huge coconut trees, banana and betel nut plantations. “It’s a huge loss for us,” says his grandson, Tejas Vaidya, a resident of Chondhi village, 10km from Alibag.

“My mother said that she has not seen something this bad in her life. We could see the trees moving in circles before they collapsed. It was scary,” said 29-year-old Jaydatta Nikalje, resident of Vaibhav Nagar in Alibag. The Nikalje family lost two mango trees and a jackfruit tree.

Till Friday, the Nikalje family had lost power supply. “Parts of the town started getting supply only by Saturday morning. Connectivity is still an issue, especially because most of us are working from home owing to the lockdown,” said Nikalje, a digital marketing professional.

The last severe cyclonic storm to hit close to Mumbai was in 1961.


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