09/08/2019 7:28 PM IST | Updated 09/08/2019 7:39 PM IST

Flood Devastates Western Maharashtra But BJP Minister Busy Enjoying Boat Ride

Girish Mahajan, water resource minister in Devendra Fadnavis’s cabinet, is under fire after a video went viral on social media

PUNE, Maharashtra: Twenty-nine people have died, 11 are missing and close to 3 lakh people have been relocated to relief camps due to floods caused by heavy rains in Western Maharashtra over the past five days, but BJP politicians seem far more interested in taking selfies and enjoying boat rides in flood-affected areas than helping people.

Girish Mahajan, senior BJP leader and water resource minister in the Devendra Fadnavis government, was seen smiling, waving and enjoying a boat ride during his “stock-taking” tour of Kolhapur district in a video which has now gone viral on social media.

And it’s not just him. Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis has already faced the opposition’s flak for continuing his “Mahajanadesh Yatra” in Vidarbha despite West Maharashtra battling floods. The CM eventually suspended his yatra for two days.

Three districts in western Maharashtra—Kolhapur, Sangli and Satara—are the worst-affected districts due to incessant rains in the past week, which filled dams in the area to their full capacity, necessitating the release of water, which resulted in the inundation in plains areas.

All roads to Kolhapur have been closed and around 17,000 vehicles are stuck on the Pune-Bangalore highway, said Deepak Maiskar, the divisional commissioner of Pune.  

“Thousands of people remain stranded in Kolhapur and Sangli district. Luckily, there was no rain today and yesterday, which has helped water level recede and we could provide food packets through choppers. Over 285,261 people have been relocated to 265 relief camps in both these districts,” Maiskar said in a press conference.

Girish Mahajan could not be contacted for his reaction as his personal secretary, Nishkant Deshpande, did not answer calls from HuffPost India.

However, the minister faced flak from opposition parties for his “disaster tourism”.

“This is insensitivity of the utmost level. The government is not serious at all. The entire rescue operation is being delayed. People are not getting help but boats meant to be used for rescue operations are being used for clicking selfies. They are doing everything for publicity. This is disaster tourism in the name of disaster management,” alleged NCP spokesperson Nawab Malik.