Orissa Thursday heaved a sigh of relief as the floodwaters expected to course through the Mahanadi river delta came down to a manageable level. However, the situation continued to remain grim with the death toll reaching 35. Most of the victims were either swept away or drowned.
As many as 1.78 million people in 3,990 villages in 23 districts have been affected by the floods so far, special relief commissioner P K Mohapatra said. “Though river Mahanadi is flowing above danger mark at several places, there is no threat of substantial damage as the water flow into Hirakud reservoir has reduced. It is a matter of relief that fear of a major high flood has been averted. Volume of water flowing down Mahanadi at Munduli stood at around 11 lakh cusec as against over 12 lakh cusec anticipated earlier,” Mohapatra said.
Many parts of Cuttack, Jagatsinghpur, Kendrapara, Khurda and Puri districts were hit by floods in Mahanadi, even as the situation in Jajpur and Bhadrak districts continued to be grave due to submergence of vast areas by floods in Baitarani, though the water level in the river is slowly falling.
By Thursday evening, water level in Mahanadi and its tributaries had come down, but 830 villages still continued to be marooned. A total of 11 National Disaster Response Force and 30 Orissa Disaster Rapid Action Force teams and 184 boats have been deployed for rescue and relief operations, with the state government asking the Centre to keep helicopters on standby.
About 70,000 people have been evacuated so far. Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, who made an aerial visit to the flood-affected areas, announced that the affected people would get food relief for the next seven days.
Sources said Ashish Khetan will be the vice-chairman of the commission.