India

Floodwaters recede, woes continue

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Sandeep Mishra, TNN | Sep 28, 2011, 11.09PM IST

BHUBANESWAR: Though the water level has started receding in flood-affected districts, the slow pace of discharge into the sea combined with inadequate food materials, paucity of potable water and lack of medicines continued to compound the woes of the over 23 lakh victims.

Official sources said on Wednesday the water level in Brahmani, Baitarani, Subarnarekha, Budhabalang and Kharasrota rivers had come down by several feet at several places, including the worst-hit parts of Bari in Jajpur, Aul, Pattamundai, Rajnagar and Rajkanika in Kendrapara. Even then, 1,362 of the total 3,569 affected villages remained marooned, forcing people to spend time on rooftops, roads and river embankments. "Discharge of water from the rivers into Bay of Bengal has been slow because of the new moon on Tuesday," said revenue minister S N Patro.

With the situation remaining serious, the state government decided to cancel Dussehra puja holidays from October 2 to 11 for all employees engaged in flood relief operations, including damage/loss assessment, distribution of assistance to flood affected people and flood restoration work, an official release said. "Such employees shall not be allowed to take leave during this period without prior approval of the special relief commissioner in deserving cases only. This is also applicable to officials of other districts deputed to affected districts for flood relief/ assessment/ restoration work," it added.

In areas where flood water have fallen considerably, people as well as the administration began reconstruction activities, while the state government continued to air-drop food and relief materials with the help of five choppers in Aul and Rajkanika areas of Kendrapara district and Bari block of Jajpur, informed special relief commissioner P K Mohapatra. "Airdropping of food will continue in these three areas on Thursday," he said. As many as 626 boats were deployed for rescue and relief operation.

The death toll in the current flood shot up to 38, 11 more than the previous day's figure. Those dead include nine each in Bhadrak and Jajpur, six in Kendrapada and four each in Keonjhar and Sundargarh districts. Three persons were also reported missing, a government release said.

Chief minister Naveen Patnaik, who visited Bhandaripokhari in Bhadrak district, said assistance for rabi crops would be provided to farmers in view of huge crop loss due to floods. He also directed that all affected villages be given Rs 1000 each to improve sanitation. The government also decided to construct permanent helipads, flood centres to shelter distressed people during calamities and godowns to store relief materials in flood-prone areas.

On Wednesday, six members of the inter-ministerial central team arrived here. Four members are already touring the flood-hit areas. "The full team, led by joint secretary, ministry of home affairs, O P Mahey, has been divided into three sub-teams and slated to visit different affected districts for on the spot assessment of damages caused due to flood," an officer said.

Official sources said heavy crop loss and house damage have taken place in 20 of the state's 30 districts during the current flood and the massive flood in Mahanadi earlier this month. Last week, the state government sought Rs 2121 crore from the Centre for the Mahanadi flood. In the latest disaster, over 2.23 lakh hectare of standing crop and 38,939 houses have been reported damaged.