Odisha is once again facing severe floods from its swelling rivers, including the Mahanadi, even as the Hirakud dam authorities opened as many as 50 sluice gates to release flood waters. At least 27 people have killed when reports last came in.
Special relief commissioner of Odisha, P K Mohapatra, on Wednesday said that about 994,000 people in 23 districts are affected.
The rivers Mahanadi, Baitarani, Budhabalang and their tributaries are flowing above the danger mark, affecting as many as 1,553 villages.
Around 400,000 people are affected in Jajpur district alone where the river Baitarani breached its embankment at six places on Tuesday and Wednesday. Many flood-affected villages are submerged in waist-deep water, forcing many residents to move in with friends and relatives living on higher ground.
As many as 280 villages of 73 gram panchayats in Jajpur district are affected by the rivers Baitarani, Kharosotra, Bramahani and Budha in spate.
The other severely affected districts are Balesore, Bhadrak, Kendrapara , Jagatsinghpur , Puri and Keonjhar.
Jajpur district worst affected
In Jajpur district, there were reports on Wednesday of fresh areas being inundated by flood waters in Barachana, Dharmasala, Dasarathpur, Korei, Bari, Jajpur and Rasulpur blocks, which has left thousands of families stranded without food, drinking water and medicines.
“The situation is very serious. We are totally helpless. Hundreds of our people are trapped in the flood waters but we can't find anyone to help us rescue them,” said Nakula Chandra Mallick (55) of Kasapa village of Jajpur district.
Many flood victims have erected makeshift huts using bamboo and polythene sheets on the river embankments and higher places.
The government claims that it has been able to meet the needs of the people by providing relief items, but a visit to Kasapa, Malikapur, Barua Biripata and other villages showed these claims to be hollow.
In Kasapa, Sita Mallick (45) and Manorama Mallick (47) are sitting on the roof of their house. “We placed a bamboo ladder near our house to climb to the roof. This is the safest place to stay as the flood water has entered our house,” said Sita.
"Our village is completely submerged. So are dozens of surrounding villages. Most people have left their villages, but some have stayed to safeguard their properties from looters," said Niranjan Jena (61) of Kasapa."We are desperately waiting for food supplies, as there are too many hungry and thirsty people," he added.
Sarat Mallick (53) of Kasapa village was rescued by a boat on Wednesday after spending a night on the roof of his house with his family.
In Trilochanpur where the river Budha breached its embankment on Tuesday, a 27-year-old youth, Subrat Panda, was swept away by the flood water. His body was found one kilometre downstream on Wednesday.
Jayanti Mallick (34) of village Biripata took refuge along with her two children on the roof of her thatched house on Tuesday when the flood waters rushed in. Little did she know that she would have to remain there for one night, until a rescue team reached her on Wednesday.
Sea of water
Garadapur block in Kendrapara district appeared like a sea dotted with small village-islands. People are marooned in these villages. In Dandisahi village, Sagar Mallick (54) stands guard over her pucca house in knee deep water.
“Little can be done until the water recedes. Nobody is sure how long that will take," said Jagabandhu Jena a retired teacher of Naranpur village.
Evacuating people stranded on roads, embankments and other elevated places has become a major challenge for the government.
Those displaced by floods in the Baitarani may not be able to return to their homes for another two weeks till the embankment is repaired and the river moves back to its normal course.
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