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Flood fear looms large in Odisha; death toll mounts to 12


Bhubaneswar, July 23: The Odisha government today put the collectors of six districts on high alert in the delta region, with the water level in Mahanadi and Baitarani rivers swelling due to depression-induced heavy rainfall, even as the death toll rose to 12.


The government apprehended a "low to medium" flood in Mahanadi and Bitarani and asked district collectors in the delta region to remain prepared for all emergency situations.

"We should remain in a state of full preparedness to tackle any emergency situation and provide immediate relief to the affected people," Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik said after taking stock of the situation here.

Stating that the state has received heavy rainfall during the last three days, necessitating evacuation of some people and provision of temporary shelter, Patnaik said the district authorities must start damage estimation.

Four persons died in Kalahandi district, while two persons were killed in Sambalpur, and one each in Kandhamal, Dhenkanal, Jajpur, Subarnapur, Nayagarh and Malkangiri districts, Special Relief Commissioner's (SRC) office sources said.

Meanwhile, SRC B P Sethi has put the district collectors of Cuttack, Kendrapara, Jajpur, Jagatsinghpur, Khurda and Puri in Mahanadi delta area on high alert as 7,30,877 cucec of water flowed through Mundali gauge station near Cuttack by this evening.

Similarly, the collectors of Keonjhar, Jajpur and Bhadrak districts have been asked to be prepared as the water level in the river Baitarani crossed the danger level at 17.83 m.

Though there has been no major breach in any river embankment, at least four lakh people in 62 blocks in 14 districts have been affected, officials said.

The districts which have been affected in the floods are Angul, Boudh, Bargarh, Deogarh, Jajpur, Kalahandi, Kandhamal, Khurda, Koraput, Nayagarh, Rayagada, Sambalpur, Subarnapur and Puri.

The authorities of the Hirakud reservoir have announced the season's first flood water release tomorrow, which may add to the flood situation in the river Mahanadi system.

However, Water Resources Secretary P K Jena said, "The release of water from the Hirakud Dam will not add to the flood situation in Mahanadi. This is because the water from Hirakud will take 36 hours to reach at Mundali. By the time the Hirakud water reaches Cutatck, the existing water may be released to the sea during 36 hours."

While the Hirakud dam has a storage capacity of 630 feet, the water level reached 616.45 feet by 6 pm today.

The water-level in Mahanadi and Baitarani is likely to further rise as the weatherman has forecast more rains in the next 24 hours.

The Water Resources Department has rushed mobile teams to keep a close watch on weak embankments and canals.

The district administrations have also been asked to keep temporary shelters ready for emergency situation and shift people living in the low-laying areas to safer places.

Reports reaching the SRC office said that a large part of low laying areas like Banki and Athagarh in Mahanadi basin have been flooded with rain water.

The water logging situation in Cuttack, Bhubaneswar and Puri has improved as rains stopped since yesterday, the officials said.

In a bid to expedite search and rescue operations in the affected areas, the state government has deployed 12 teams of Disaster Response Force (ODRAF), personnel of Fire Service and 5 teams of the NDRF have been pre-positioned in 5 districts namely Bhadrak, Kendrapara, Jajpur (Barachana Block), Puri and Jagatsinghpur for emergency.

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