Flood situation worsens in Orissa; Over 20,000 evacuated

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Bhubaneswar, Jun 19 (UNI) Over 20,000 people were evacuated from the flood ravaged districts of north Orissa after heavy rains in upper catchments area wreaked havoc in Balasore, Bhadrak, Mayurbhanj and Jajpur district affecting more than a million people.

Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik who made an aerial survey of the flood hit Balasore, Mayurbhanj and Bhadrak along with Revenue Minister Manmohan Samal described the flood as ''unprecedented in the history of the Subarnarekha river system.'' Mr Patnaik after reviewing the flood situation, directed the officials to intensify the relief and rescue operations. The state government had already requisitioned the assistance of Indian Airforce helicopters for air dropping relief materials in the marooned villages.

Revenue Minister Mahmohan Samal told mediapersons about 19,000 people were evacuated from Balasore alone,the worst hit in the floods. As many as 1300 villages in 17 blocks of the four districts were affected and relief and rescue operation was going on in full swing.

Mr Samal said nearly 40 power boats and 205 country made boats were pressed into service in Balasore district for relief and rescue operations. The meeting decided to send one hundred more boats, medical teams and more Orissa Disaster Rapid Action Force units to Balasore.

The Revenue Minister said two helicopters of the Airforce had started air dropping food packets in Balasore and one more helicopter would join the relief operation latest by tomorrow.

Mr Samal said the flood situation was gradually improving as water level in all the major rivers had started receding. The Special Relief Commissioner(SRC) was camping at Balasore and supervising the rescue and relief operation.

The meeting also decided to send officers who had served in the north Orissa districts earlier for speedy and better execution of rescue and relief operation work.

The Minister said 138 free kitchens have been started in different places of the district. The government had already spent Rs 4.77 crore in providing relief materials to the distressed people.

The government, he said, also directed the officials to repair the roads damaged by the flood within seven days and announced to provide house building assistance within 15 days.

Mr Samal said the government was also contemplating to create a tributary of Subarnarekha river as a permanent solution to the perennial flood problem in the district.

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