The Odisha government today warned of a possible “low to medium” flood in Mahanadi river system with rise in the water flow even as rain subsided in most parts of the state. The death toll in rain-related incidents rose to five with two more deaths reported today. One person was swept away by the flood water in Kalamati village in Sambalpur district while another died of snakebite in Tarava block of Sonepur district, officials said. Three people had lost their lives in rain-related incidents yesterday as incessant rain battered many areas. About 7.5 to 8.0 lakh cusec of water may pass at Munduli by tomorrow evening and “low to medium flood situation” may occur in Mahanadi river system, according to Special Relief Commissioner (SRC) Bishnupada Sethi.
The district collectors of Jajpur, Cuttack, Puri, Jagatsinghpur, Kendrapara and Khordha have been alerted and instructed to draw up an emergency plan to meet any eventuality, he said. Instruction was also given to work out an evacuation plan for low-lying areas which are likely to be marooned and to ensure readiness of country boats, power boats, multi-purpose flood and cyclone shelters. Regarding torrential rains that battered most parts of the state in the last two days, Sethi said though some areas still remained inundated, the situation has improved considerably.
While intensity of rainfall declined in most parts of the state, districts like Sambalpur, Bargarh, Boudh, Sonepur, Angul and Kandhamal recorded heavy rain today, he said. The SRC said Burla has registered a record rainfall of 622 mm in the last 24 hours. The rainfall recorded at the Master Control Room of Hirakud Dam Project located at Burla is the highest ever among all the stations in Odisha, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said. “This has crossed the previous highest rainfall record of 581.9 mm, measured by the IMD’s rain gauge station at Sambalpur on August 19, 1982,” an official said. Sethi said Sambalpur city has recorded 490 mm rainfall during the last 24 hours. Similarly, 510 mm rainfall was measured in Maneswar, 487 mm in Dhankauda block of Sambalpur, 430 mm in Birmaharajpur and 380 mm in Boudh.
Noting that a few small rivers were cause of worry, he said the district collectors were asked to keep a close watch on the situation. He said 12 wards in Sambalpur with a population of 1.25 lakh have been affected. Around 726 houses were damaged while 326 families in these wards rescued and shifted to 34 temporary shelters. They have been provided with dry food. People in low-lying areas of Sambalpur and outskirts in Burla and Hirakud have been marooned by rain water. Twenty-two relief camps have been opened where 2,346 people are accommodated, Sethi said, adding cooked food through free kitchens has been arranged for the evacuated people. Personnel of the Odisha Disaster Rapid Action Force (ODRAF) and fire services were pressed into service to undertake rescue and relief operations in the affected areas.
The situation in Sonepur district was grim following heavy rainfall since the last two days. Water level of river Tel is rising and road communication between Dharmasala to Kadaligarh was cut off at Pitamahal, an official said. The situation was similar between Birmaharajpur and Subalaya as rain water was flowing over a bridge of Harihar Nullah near Jatesingha and another bridge over the Gungi Nullah near Bhutiapalli. In Bargarh district, some villages of Attabira and Bheden Block and five wards of Baragarh Municipality area remained waterlogged due to heavy rain, he said. The SRC said with the current spell, the average rainfall for the month of July so far has registered a surplus of 57.6 per cent of the long term average rainfall.
Similarly, the cumulative average rainfall of the state from June 1-22 also registered a surplus of 18.3 per cent over the long term average rainfall and the state is no longer facing a drought-like situation, he said. Going by districts, 16 districts have received surplus rainfall of more than 19 per cent whereas 13 more received normal rainfall (+19 to -19 per cent) during the period since June 1, he said. Meanwhile, the situation in places like Bhubaneswar and Cuttack, which were hit by severe waterlogging following heavy downpour yesterday, improved considerably as the rain subsided today.