Bhubhaneshwar, July 26: More than three lakh people in 20 districts of Odisha have been affected, while at least 20 people died due to heavy rains and flood in the state, officials said.
Sources in the Special Relief Commissioner's (SRC) office said a total of 20 people died during two spells of rains and subsequent floods.
While five people died due to heavy to very rains, 15 others reportedly died in flood-related incidents.
The district administrations are verifying whether the deaths were due to floods, deputy SRC Pravat Ranjan Mohapatra said, adding, that four people were reported to have been killed in Kalahandi district.
A preliminary assessment indicated that 8,286 houses have been partially or fully damaged in the deluge that lasted for around four days, beginning on July 20.
While the first spell of rain continued for two days on July 15 and 16, the second one caused more damage from July 20 to July 23. The maximum damage due to rains and floods was reported on July 21 and July 22, they said.
Special Relief Commissioner (SRC) B P Sethi stated that the district authorities have been asked to complete the assessment of damages to private properties in two weeks and furnish a report for allotment of funds in the affected areas.
The situation has, however, changed for better in the past two days in the rain-affected districts and all people living in relief shelters have left for their houses today, officials said.
Sources in the Meteorological department today said the state recorded just 1.4 mm average rainfall in the past 24 hours.
"Altogether, 21 districts have received little showers since yesterday. Malkangiri is south Odisha received the maximum rainfall of 16.3 mm. Nine districts, including Balangir, Boudh, Dhenkanal, Kandhamal, Kendrapada and Puri, have not received any rainfall in 24 hours," Sethi added.
As the water-level in the Hirakud dam swelled, the authorities last night opened five more sluice gates of the dam in addition to the 15 spillways yesterday.
Meanwhile, three of the 20 gates have been closed and only flood water is being released through 17 gates at the Hirakud dam.
After draining out 2.5 lakh cusecs of floodwater through 15 sluice gates yesterday, the authorities decided to open more gates in view of the full moon on July 27, said Jyotirmaya Rath, Chief Engineer of the Hirakud dam.
"As full moon leads to swelling of seas, water from the Mahanadi cannot be effectively drained into the river during that period. Keeping that in mind, we decided to open five more gates after midnight," he said
The season's first floodwater, released around 12 noon yesterday, was expected to reach Mundali near Cuttack this evening, he said, adding that the level at the reservoir has come down to 614.47 feet at 6 pm today from 616.31 feet around 6 am in the morning, Rath said.
Dispelling fears of another flood-like situation due to discharge of water from the dam, Deputy SRC Pravat Ranjan Mohapatra said the reservoir water would not affect the Mahanadi River System. He said water levels in other rivers are also receding.