Bhubaneswar, Sep 21 (UNI) The flood situation in Orissa continued to remain grim for the fifth consecutive day today affecting more than 24 lakh people in 17 districts, out of which over five lakh were marooned as 61 embankments breached at various places causing havoc in several areas.
Although the official sources said several rivers were showing a receding trend, a fresh low pressure over the Bay of Bengal and incessant rains in several parts of Orissa were likely to worsen the situation in the coming days.
Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik made an aerial survey of the flood affected areas of Mahanadi delta region for the second day today and reviewed the flood situation and relief measures taken by his government at a high-level meeting in the state secretariat.
Mr Patnaik ordered immediate repair of the roads washed away or disrupted in the floods and warned that strong action would be taken against the Sarpanches if they were found neglecting the relief distribution work in their area.
Meanwhile, the flood situation in Puri district turned critical as nearly seven lakh people belonging to 90 gram panchayats under eight blocks were affected.
At least five breaches in the river embankments have triggered flash floods and snapped road communication to Puri. The link to state capital Bhubanswar was cut off as the flood water submerged the NH 203 at various places and one small bridge washed away near Satsankha.
The rescue team posted in various strategic flood prone areas managed to rescue 300 people who were washed away at Teisipur located along the side of NH 203.
Chief Secretary Ajit Kumar Tripathy told newspersons here today that the recent flood has so far claimed 17 lives, damaged 11,000 houses and crop over 1.55 lakh hectares.
As many as 117 wards in 22 urban local bodies were affected in the flood.
Official sources said Cuttack, Jagatsinghpur, Puri and Kendrapara witnessed the flood fury due to a high flood in Mahanadi river system.
Mr Tripathy said the government has so far evacuated 2.66 lakh people, opened 261 free kitchens covering 1.12 lakh beneficiaries.
As many as three helicopters of the Indian Air Force were pressed into service to rescue the people from the marooned areas and air dropped food packets in inaccessible flood affected areas of Cuttack, Kendrapara and Jagtsinghpur districts.
A college student in Bhubaneswar was washed away while trying to cross a swollen nallah. His body was later retrieved by the local people.
Another report said three people in Pipli were swept away as the water surged into their village following a breach.
The government today decided to continue the relief work for 15 days in worse affected areas and seven days in less affected areas.
The Sarpanches of the affected areas were directed to open free kitchens and provide cooked food to the people. The Panchayat Raj Department was directed to take action against the sarpanches for non-compliance with the orders.
The Chief Secretary said the government has deployed 51 power boats of ODRAF, 35 mechanised boats of NDRF, 20 boats of Orissa State Fire Service and 160 boats of the State Relief Commission.
He said it was for the first time so many boats were deployed for the rescue and relief work.
Mr Tripathy said 359 Medical relief camps were opened, around seven lakh water pouchrs were supplied and 600 tons of cattle feed distributed in eight flood affected districts.
He said a marked improvement was made in the water level in the Mahanadi river system with only 3.85 lakh flowing into the Hirakud reservoir and 4.97 cusecs flowing out.
As many as 23 of the 46 gates opened yesterday were closed today and around 13 lakh cusecs water was now flowing at Munduli.
However,the flood situation, official sources said, would continue for a week more.
A report from Kendrapada said an IAF helicopter today rescued two aged persons from flooding in the district. The persons from Jagannathpur village under Garadapur block were waiting to be rescued from their rooftop after flood submerged their village.
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