Earthquakes, Godhra and now this, Gujarat appears to be a calamity state. Though the present floods have affected the entire state, south and central Gujarat have borne the brunt. Beginning from Vapi on the Maharashtra border right up to Ahmedabad, the districts of Bulsar, the Dangs, Navsari, Surat, Bharuch, Narmada, Vadodara, Anand and Nadiad have been hit the hardest. Among the cities, it's Vadodara, Anand, Surat and Nadiad. It rained almost non-stop for some 100 hours in some of these areas. "With Gujarat receiving over 35 per cent of the season's rainfall in one fell swoop, the situation was pretty grim at one point of time," says revenue minister Kaushik Patel.
The floods have left 174 dead as per official estimates but the toll could go up to 200. The state government has a gargantuan task ahead of it. With houses washed away, it has to rehabilitate the five lakh displaced. Official statistics point to over 900 villages being cut off and power supply to about 5,000 being affected. With potable water in critically short supply, the state government had to buy it from the cola companies and local bottlers to distribute it among the flood-hit.
Business and industry too have taken a blow. Early estimates of losses incurred by trade and industry are pegged at about Rs 5,000 crore. Bipin Patel, secretary, Gujarat chamber of commerce and industry, reckoned that the losses ran into Rs 2,000 crore within the first four days alone. "With the bulk of the major units in the state shut down during the rain, the losses will be much more," adds a senior bureaucrat.
How much exactly will be known once a survey to assess losses to industry logs its findings. Such a survey is in progress, says industries minister Anil Patel. The floods have been particularly harsh on Surat, industrial capital of Gujarat. A South Gujarat Textile Processors Association spokesman said the closure of the 100-odd processing units for just a day in the Pandesara area alone resulted in losses of Rs 15-20 crore. Surat's textile traders estimate losses in just one week to be Rs 200 crore.
Not just this, some 500 state and district roads are estimated to have suffered damages in varying degrees. The rail link on the Delhi-Mumbai route has also suffered very heavy damage, though round-the-clock efforts are on to restore services.
Irony is, while the deluge has wreaked such havoc on Gujarat, its 187 dams have received only about 33 per cent water of their capacity. It did not rain enough in the places that actually required a healthy downpour.
Apres le deluge, there's disease. Preventive measures are being taken. But though the flood might have receded for now, the Met department warns of a second spell of rain within a week. It's the one time the Gujaratis are praying they are wrong.