Scores of survivors of the devastating hillslide tragedy met Shiv Sena (UBT) President and former Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray even as the death toll in Irshalwadi increased to 25, here on Saturday.
Many of the 95-odd villagers, who trooped to meet Thackeray and others, were seen weeping, some still in a state of shock, a few crying and grieving over the loss of their family members and all the displaced people worried about their bleak future.
Several of the villagers expressed concerns over their uncertain future as they had lost one or more of their family members, all belongings, lands, livelihood in the tragedy, and many are now bereft of their sole breadwinner in their families.
Accompanied by senior party leaders like Leader of Opposition (Council) Ambadas Danve, Anil Parab, Bhaskar Jadhav, Milind Narvekar and others, Thackeray went to the Panchayatan Temple where over a hundred survivors are temporarily given shelter.
Thackeray condoled and consoled the survivors, enquired after the condition of the 10-plus injured victims who were dug out of the boulders and sludge on the hillside in the past three days since the hillock slid and crashed onto a part of the Irshalwadi tribal hamlet around 11.30 pm on Wednesday (July 19) night.
The survivors recounted the devastation and how it has uprooted them and shattered their lives, snuffed out many of their near and dear ones, in many cases the only earner in the family, as a grim Thackeray listened silently.
Later, addressing the tribals, the ex-CM said he had “no words to describe the tragic horrors that befell the people of Irshalwadi” and promised to extend all possible help to the dis-housed people.
“We shall be with you till the entire rehabilitation process is completed… We are here to provide any help that you may require… Please remain united,” assured Thackeray.
He gently advised the people to exercise care while selecting the rehab spots that the government will soon allot them, that it should be away from such landslide or hillslide prone areas, to avoid any similar tragedies in future.
Thackeray also urged the government authorities to implement the Prime Minister Awas Yojana (PMY) for Irshalwadi and other risk-prone regions in the state where people live under the threats of such disasters.
“It’s not enough to wake up after a tragedy strike… There must be a long-term solution to this… Irshalwadi and other villages that are in the vicinity of such slide-prone hills, rocks, etc, The people must be shifted to safer locations and rehabilitated under the PMAY,” Thackeray urged.
He promised to take up this issue with the Raigad and state government authorities to take urgent measures and prevent any more such tragedies or loss of human lives in future.
As the rescue work continued for the third day, four more bodies have been taken out taking the death toll to 25.
However, over a 100 are still “missing” and hopes dimmed for their survival this morning.
The Raigad district administration has made all lodging-boarding arrangements for the Irshalwadi survivors whose homes escaped the hail of boulders and sludge that night.
As a precaution, all have been shifted to the Panchayatan Temple while the local authorities chalk out a long-term strategy for their rehabilitation.