India: Maharashtra Monsoon Floods - Information Bulletin n° 9

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In Brief

This Bulletin (no. 9/2005) is being issued for information only, and reflects the status of the situation and information available at this time . While the Federation is not specifically seeking funding or other assistance from donors for this operation at this time, discussions are underway with the Indian Red Cross Society and government authorities to agree on an effective response plan and strategy involving joint assessments, water and sanitation assistance, and, depending on the evolving situation and needs, potentially an emergency appeal (or a request for assistance).

The Situation

The heavy flooding which struck the western Indian state of Maharashtra has killed approximately a thousand people and affected an estimated 20 million people -- 20 percent of the population of the state. The adjoining state of Goa has also been hit by flooding. Half the deaths have occurred in the Maharashtra state capital Mumbai, while rural districts have also been hard hit. Over 200,000 hectares of crops have been inundated. While the initial threats came from torrential flows of water, electrocution and debris, there have been numerous landslides causing widespread deaths and injury. Infrastructure has been severely affected with extensive damage to roads, railways and telecommunications. Rail and air services have been disrupted. Air services resumed on a limited basis from 27 July.

Relief items have been air dropped by the local authorities in Badlapur, Bhiwandi, Kalyan, Andheri, Ambernath, Ulhasnagar and Thane districts. About 100,000 people have been evacuated from Sangli, Kolapur and Satara districts due to the release of water from dams. While relief camps in Mumbai city have been closed, there are 10,000 people from suburban Mumbai and 10,000 from Satara, Sangli, Kolahapur districts sheltered in 20 government-run relief camps. The state has deployed 2,000 municipal employees to carry out debris clearance in Mumbai and suburban areas of Thane district. Water supplies are still disrupted and work on restoring these is ongoing. More than 200 medical teams have been deployed by the state government, with each team consisting of a doctor and three paramedic staff. These teams are providing primary health care in and around Mumbai. The government is providing cash grants for 325,000 people of 1,000 India rupees (CHF 29) each.

Red Cross and Red Crescent action

The Indian Red Cross Maharastra state branch has been responding since the flooding began on 24 July and has scaled up its activities significantly this week.

Distributions of relief items and relief activities to date are summarized below:

Relief items
Yeotamal - Wheat, flour, rice, mineral water and pulses using pre-positioned disaster preparedness stock in the district. Fourteen state branch volunteers were involved in distributions.
Mumbai city railway stations - Fruit, bread, snacks, and water to approximately 1,500 people .
Mumbai city (air drops by local authorities) - 29,088 loaves of bread and 1,500 packets of biscuits. These were repackaged into smaller food parcels by Indian Red Cross volunteers/staff.
- Indian Red Cross volunteers also ran small community kitchens and mobilized medicines.
Ratnagiri district - A team of eight doctors and two paramedics deployed covering six villages.
- 1,500 stranded people assisted with cooked food at the bus terminals.
- Distributed 500 blankets, 300 sheets, 100 bars of soap, 44 rolls of cloth, 1,000 bottles of water, one box of anti-diarrhoea medicines, 10 boxes of saline, 20 units of sterilizing fluid, and 3,680 packets of biscuits.
Thane (Bhivandi) 3,000 people received two meals a day for three days from Indian Red Cross kitchens.
Nashik district A team of six doctors and two paramedics mobilized
Nanded district 19 medical clinics run by district branch medical staff.
Kalina (Mumbai) - 2,000 kgs rice, 1,000 kgs dal, 70 boxes phenyl, 300 packets of biscuits, 400 saris, 400 sheets, medicines, 1,000 packets thepla (local food), and bleaching powder
Kurla (Mumbai) - 2,500 kgs rice, 1,000 kgs dal, 400 sheets, 400 saris, 300 packets biscuits, 1,000 packets thepla (local food).
Kalyan (Mumbai) - 2,000 kgs rice, 1,000 kgs dal, 400 sheets, 3,600 packets biscuits.
Shastri nagar (Mumbai) - Phenoyl and bleaching powder was provided to the Shastri Nagar for cleaning.
- In the shanty town nearby, dal, rice, biscuits and assorted clothes were distributed.
Ulhas nagar (Mumbai) - Community kitchens served cooked food and medicines are being mobilized
Dombivali (Mumbai) - Milk powder and used clothing for approximately 400 people.
Mahadh (Mumbai) - Milk powder, biscuits, dal, rice, and snacks

In addition to the above, Indian Red Cross national headquarters has mobilized the following for distribution in Maharashtra: 5,000 family kits (each kit contains one tarpaulin, one sheet, one sari, one dhoti, one cotton blanket, towel, kitchen set and plastic bucket) and 10,000 water purification tablets.

The Maharastra state branch staff and volunteers have been assisting the local authorities with relief and rescue operations.

A total of four water sanitation units have now been mobilized since relief activities started. Three of these have now reached Mumbai and are operational, able to produce 10,000 litres of clean drinking water per day. The fourth unit still en route has a capacity of producing 200,000 litres of clean water per day. These units have been airlifted with the assistance of the local authorities.

Three national disaster response team members have been selected and will be in the field this weekend.

Following initial assessments by the state branch, a further assessment has been made in conjunction with national headquarters and Federation country delegation staff. The team has met with local authorities, UN agencies and other relief actors and outlined the following recommendations (these figures are preliminary and may be scaled up as the situation evolves):

- Procurement and distribution of a further 25,000 family packs in addition to the 5,000 already sent from the national headquarters. Of the 30,000 total family packs, 15,000 would be for Mumbai and the other 15,000 for other affected districts. Each pack contains utensil sets, stove, bed sheet, clothes, towel.

- Replenishment of the 5,000 family packs sent from the national headquarters.

- Mobilization of Indian Red Cross national disaster response team members in addition to the three members already deployed.

- Identification through survey of the most vulnerable families accordingly to the selection criteria established (BPI -- high protein biscuits, single women households, temporarily displaced households, old and infirm) to be followed by distributions of relief items by state branch staff and volunteers.

- Deployment and continuous use of three trailer-mounted water treatment units providing clean drinking water for two months. These units will be assisting 30,000 people and will be operated by the government's water supply and sanitation department under a letter of understanding for maintenance and upkeep of the unit between the Indian Red Cross Maharashtra state branch and the department. These units are to be returned to the national society at the end of the two-month period. Technical staff for successful deployment of these units are to be mobilized by the Indian Red Cross nationally, and if required, regionally.

The Indian Red Cross secretary general, the acting head of the Federation India delegation, the head of regional delegation, and representatives from the Canadian and American Red Cross will make a visit to Mumbai on Saturday, 6 August. They will join the vice chairman of the Indian Red Cross on a field visit and will meet with the Maharashtra state chief minister.

For further information specifically related to this operation please contact:

In India: Indian Red Cross Society (Dr S P Agarwal, Secretary-General);, phone: +91.11.2371.6441; fax:+91.11.2371.7454

In India: Jim Dawe, acting Head of Delegation, New Delhi, email:, phone: +91.11.2332.4203, fax: +91.11.2332.4235

In Geneva: Jagan Chapagain, Senior Officer, Asia Pacific department; email:; phone: +41.22.730.4316; fax: +41.22.733.0395 or Nelly Khrabraya; email:; phone: +41.22.730.4306

All International Federation assistance seeks to adhere to the Code of Conduct for the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement and Non-Governmental Organisations (NGO's) in Disaster Relief and is committed to the Humanitarian Charter and Minimum Standards in Disaster Response (Sphere) in delivering assistance to the most vulnerable.

For longer-term programmes in this or other countries or regions, please refer to the Federation's Annual Appeal. For support to or for further information concerning Federation programmes or operations in this or other countries, or for national society profiles, please also access the Federation's website at