The flood situation in Odisha, mainly in the northern districts of Balasore and Mayurbhanj, remains critical as the rivers Subarnarekha, Budhabalanga, Jalaka and Baitarani continue to flow above the danger mark. The state government is on alert with the India Meteorological Department (IMD) predicting fresh spells of rains to lash Balasore on Tuesday and Wednesday.
The rivers swollen by the heavy rains caused due to the depression in the Bay of Bengal and water release from neighbouring Jharkhand, have triggered floods in their basins, impacting more than 9.66 lakh people in 251 villages in the Balasore, Mayurbhanj, Jajpur and Bhadrak districts of Odisha.
Jharkhand recently opened 16 sluice gates of the Galudih barrage to release around 6 lakh cusec of water into the Subarnarekha river system. Under its impact, one lakh people in over 134 villages in Balasore district were left marooned by floodwaters as a swollen Subarnarekha flooded four blocks on Monday.
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While the Saraskana and Rasgovindpur blocks in Mayurbhanj district have been hit by the floods in the Subarnarekha river, in Jajpur the Baitarani flooded blocks including Dasrathpur and Korei.
In Jajpur district, over 25 villages of Baliapal block have been marooned by flood waters. Villagers have been using rafts made of banana plant to transport valuable articles and domesticated animals to safer places.
Several places in Keonjhar district’s Hatadihi, Ghasipur and Anandapur are also under floodwaters.
The situation has come as a double whammy for the state which was already battling a flood situation on its eastern flank due to the overflowing of river Mahanadi, which ruined swathes of paddy crops.
The state government on Sunday launched a massive evacuation drive in Balasore and Mayurbhanj districts to relocate people in low lying areas to safer places. In Balasore alone, 40,000 people were shifted to 227 shelters.
The government at present is running 440 relief centres, where 1.71 people are being fed and taken care of.
A seven-day relief package for the affected people in Balasore, Mayurbhanj, Bhadrakh, Keonjhar and Jajpur districts has also been announced by the government.
State water resources minister Tukuni Sahu, said that the water level of Subarnarekha river, which is gradually dipping, however, remains above the danger mark in several villages and has inundated the Baliapal, Bhograi, Basta and Jaleswar blocks of Balasore.
She said while the water level has been stable for the past eight hours, the administration is keeping a close vigil on the situation.
“Nearly 156 villages in 83 gram panchayats of Balasore district have been hit by the flood. The administration has evacuated 40,000 people by Monday noon. They have been put up in 227 temporary shelters,” Balasore District Collector Dattatraya Bhausaheb Shinde told PTI.
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On the eastern coast of the state, people affected by the floods in the Mahanadi river system are yet to pick up the pieces and start life afresh.
Reports say floodwaters haven’t receded in Banki, Athagarh, Konark and Paradip districts of the state and have ruined hectares of crops.
The government says over 5 lakh people are still marooned in 763 villages of the state under the impact of the floods.