Orissa seeks Navy help flood in relief operation

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Bhubaneswar, Sep 22 (UNI) With Army helicopters engaged in air dropping, the Orissa government today sought the help of the Navy for rescue and relief operation in worst flood hit areas as Cuttak, Kendrapara, Jaagatsinghpur and Puri districts remained inaccessible leaving lakhs of people marooned.

State Revenue Minister Manmohan Samal said a high level meeting, held under the Chairmanship of Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik to review the rescue and relief work, requested the Navy units in Chilika and Vizag to help the state government in the hour of crisis.

Four Army helicopters had already been pressed into service for air dropping the relief material in the worst hit pockets.

Mr Samal alleged that the Centre was apathetic to the state government's request for assistance to redress the damage caused by the floods and termed it as ''unfortunate''.

He said though the state government had asked for an assistance of Rs 1,500 crore from the National Contingency Relief Fund, there was no response from the Centre so far.

The government has directed the collectors of the flood affected districts to involve the NGOs in the relief and rescue work.

Since many people were taking shelter on rooftops and national highways, the government directed the district collectors to shift them to the nearest available school or college buildings.

Former Cuttack District Collector D K Singh was asked to supervise the relief and rescue operation in Cuttack and the RDC (Central) was asked to monitor the same.

The state government, the Revenue Minister said, had requested the Centre to provide additional 10,000 kilolitres of kerosene in addition to its regular quota of 30,000 kilolitres as the marooned villages were out of electricity.

The government has already issued an order to distribute the October quota of kerosene to the people in September.

The government, he said, is likely to postpone the college elections in the worst affected coastal districts in the wake of the grave flood situation.

Mr Samal said the current flood so far affected around four million people across the state and claimed as many as 24 lives.

However, unofficial sources put the toll at 33.

Official sources said seven people died in Cuttack, four died in Jajpur, three died in Angul, Bolangir, Keonjhar and Puri each, while Sambalpur reported one casualty.

Unofficial sources said in addition to it one person died in Bhubaneswar, six in Kendrapara and two in Nimapara.

The Revenue Minister said till now most of the places on the downstream of Mahanadi river system like Banki, Niali, 42 Mauza Nishict Koili were inaccessible and the officials engaged in rescue and relief operations found it difficult to reach those areas.

Meanwhile, the flood situation improved substantially with 11.36 lakh cusecs of water passing through Munduli into the Mahanadi system.

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