Flood waters engulfed vast areas of the delta region of Mahanadi river system in Odisha even as the death toll due to heavy rains and floods in the state climbed to 34.
As many as 9.95 lakh people in 1,553 villages of 89 blocks in 23 districts have so far been affected due to the floods, the special relief commissioner said. “Though river Mahanadi is flowing above danger mark at several places, there is no threat of substantial damage as the water flow into Hirakud reservoir has come down,” Special Relief Commissioner P K Mohapatra said.
The death toll due to floods and heavy rain in different parts of the state went up to 34 with seven fresh deaths reported since Wednesday, the SRC said, adding, most of the casualties were due to drowning and wall collapse.
“It is a matter of relief that fear of a major high flood has been averted. Volume of water flowing down Mahanadi at Munduli stood at around 11 lakh cusec as against over 12 lakh cusec anticipated earlier,” he said.
The level in Hirakud reservoir stood at 628.08 feet as against its full capacity of 630 feet and 50 of the 64 sluice gates were opened for discharge of excess water, said Biswajit Mohanty, Chief Engineer of Hirakud dam.
However, as flow of water into the river went down, it has been decided to first close three gates and subsequently more gates after assessing the situation, he said, adding flow into the reservoir from upper catchment areas was now around 7.8 lakh cusec.
Many parts of Cuttack, Jagatsinghpur, Kendrapara, Khurda and Puri districts were hit by flood in Mahanadi, even as the situation in Jajpur and Bhadrak districts continued to be grave due to submergence of vast areas by flood in Baitarani though water level in the river is slowly falling, the SRC said.
Around 1.11 lakh people have been evacuated from low-lying areas to safe places and about 240 kitchens were now operating to provide them free cooked food. As many as 2,41,658 people were marooned in 398 villages as surging water of Baitarani and Mahanadi and their tributaries flooded vast areas in Jajpur, Bhadrak, Cuttack, Khurda, Nayagarh, Angul, Kendrapara and Jagatsinghpur districts, he said.
Two helicopters of the Indian Air Force have been kept on stand-by for use in relief operation, if necessary, the SRC said, adding at present the entire operation was being carried out with the help of boats. Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh had on Wednesday called up Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik and pledged all necessary assistance in relief operations in flood-hit areas.
Around 30 units of Odisha Disaster Rapid Action Force were also deployed in vulnerable areas, SRC office said, adding fire brigade personnel were put on stand by.
Image: Women with their belongings going to higher places after waters of River Kathajodi entered their village in Odisha. Photograph: PTI