Bhubaneswar: Vast areas in the delta region of Mahanadi river system were inundated by flood waters while the water level in other rivers dropped slowly as the death toll due to rains and floods which hit over 17.8 lakh people climbed to 35 on Thursday.
Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, who took an aerial view of flood affected areas of Cuttack, Jajpur, Kendrapara, Bhadrak and Puri districts, said the situation was improving and hoped normalcy would return soon.
Patnaik announced relief for seven days to the people in areas badly affected by floods. As many as 17.88 lakh people in 3,990 villages of 132 blocks in 1,084 gram panchayats spread over 23 districts have so far been affected due to the floods, Special Relief Commissioner (SRC) P K Mohapatra said.
"Though Mahanadi river is flowing above danger mark at several places, there is no threat of substantial damage as the flow of water has come down," he said.
Death toll due to floods and heavy rains in different parts of the state went up to 35 with eight fresh deaths reported since yesterday, the SRC said adding, most of the casualties were due to drowning and wall collapse. One person was missing in Keonjhar district.
"It is a matter of relief that a major flood has been averted. Around 10.87 lakh cusec water is now flowing in Mahanadi river at Mundali and the volume is fast decreasing," Mohapatra said.
The peak level of water flow at Mundali was restricted to around 11 lakh cusec as against over 12 lakh cusec anticipated earlier, he said.
The water level in Hirakud reservoir stood at 627.8 ft as against its full capacity of 630 ft and 44 of the 64 sluice gates were open for discharge of excess water at present, the SRC said, adding, more gates would be shut soon. Around 6.7 lakh cusec of water was now flowing into Hirakud reservoir and the outflow was maintained at the same level, he said.
As Mahanadi river and its tributaries were flowing above the danger level at several places including Naraj, Jobra and Daleighai, flood waters submerged many areas where relief and rescue operation was intensified.
Many parts of Cuttack, Puri, Jajpur and Kendrapara districts were submerged, while the situation in Jajpur and Bhadrak districts continued to be grim due to submergence of vast areas by flood waters of Baitarani river, though water level in the river was slowly receding, the SRC said.
As many as 30 small breaches occurred in embankments leaving around 830 villages marooned. Steps would be taken to repair the breaches soon after the water recedes, he said.
Around 69,430 of those who had been evacuated from low-lying areas to safety were sheltered in relief centres and about 243 kitchens were now operating to provide them free cooked food, the SRC said.
As many as 101 wards in 22 urban local body areas have also been affected by the floods. Two helicopters of the Indian Air Force were kept on stand-by for use in relief operations, Mohapatra said.
Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh had yesterday called up Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik and pledged all necessary assistance in relief operations in flood-hit areas.
As per preliminary assessment, 15,943 houses have been damaged in the floods which affected crops in over 2,08,911 hectares, sources in the SRC office said adding, reports of about 86 livestock casualties have been received so far.
About a dozen NDRF teams have been mobilised in Keonjhar, Jajpur, Bhadrak, Balasore, Mayurbhanj, Cuttack, Kendrapara and Puri districts to assist in rescue and relief operation. Over 184 boats were engaged in the operation.
Around 30 units of Odisha Disaster Rapid Action Force (ODRAF) were also deployed in vulnerable areas, the SRC office said adding, fire brigade personnel were put on stand by.
In Jagatsinghpur, the focus was on relief work as around 20,000 people were marooned while about 7,000 persons have been evacuated with areas like Tirtol and Kunajang being the worst affected, District Collector S K Mallick said.
In Puri district, water level in rivers like Bhargavi and Kushabhadra had risen inundating several villages in Nimapara, Kanas, Delang and Gop, while road link between Pipili and Nimapara was snapped, the SRC office said.
A report from Kendrapara said road link in Rajkanika block in Kendrapara block was affected as water of Kharasrota river was flowing on Cuttack-Chandbali road at Ganjaghati under Aul block.
Similarly, three panchayats of Marsaghai and Derabis blocks in Kendrapara district were surrounded by flood waters of Karandia river following a breach in the river embankment at Basapur, the SRC office said.
Mohapatra said there was no further threat of any major breach in the river system and flow in Brahmani, Budhabalang and Subarnarekha rivers was also under control.