647 villages still marooned in Odisha

647 villages still marooned in Odisha

Though flood situation in Odisha's five northen districts triggered by Cyclone Phailin and resultant rains slightly improved today, people of 647 villages continued to be marooned, while the death toll in the twin calamities stood at 28.

With water level in major rivers receding, the state government today decided to demobilise defence forces comprising of personnel from the Army, Navy and Air Force.

However, the local unit of NDRF would remain deployed in the flood-affected areas of Balasore district, special relief commissioner (SRC) P K Mohapatra told reporters here.

"Flood situation has improved except in four blocks - Basta, Bhograi, Jaleswar and Baliapal of Balasore district and waters receded in eight other blocks," he said, adding 647 villages in 83 panchayats still remained marooned.

Flood water has also receded in Mayurbhanj, Bhadrak, Jajpur and Keonjhar and the government has decided to stop air dropping of food packets as all area are now approachable by motor boats, Revenue Divisional Commissioner (RDC), central division, Aravind Padhee said.

The RDC said about 96,000 flood affected people of Balasore district are now sheltered in relief camps.

"Eighty per cent of people in relief camps will leave for their houses by the evening," Padhee said.

In Jajpur district, though flood waters remained stagnant in 66 villages under 24 gram panchayats, they are approachable by boat and roads. About 70 villages of Bhadrak district were still flooded, he said.

"We expect fresh floods in 30 villages of four gram panchayats under Chandbali block of Bhadrak as water of river Baitarani would flow into the sea through this channel," Mohapatra said, adding 1.73 lakh people were evacuated in the wake of the floods in Subarnarekha, Budhabalang, Baitarani and Jalaka rivers.

Stating that relief distribution was now the only priority in both cyclone and flood hit areas, Chief Secretary J K Mohapatra said the state government has thanked the defence forces for their support and assistance during the twin calamities.

The government has expedited restoration work in Ganjam and other cyclone-hit districts and a timeline has been fixed for completion of works, he said.

Patro said besides flooding many areas in Balasore, the Budhabalang had inundated 10 blocks in neighbouring Mayurbhanj district. Besides Baripada, the district headquarter town of Mayurbhanj, Betanati and Badasahi blocks had been severely hit in the floods.

Stating that the cyclone had left a trail of destruction in the vast coastal belt, particularly in the worst-hit Ganjam, the minister said the south Odisha district was faced with severe power crisis and acute drinking water problem.

While electricity had been restored partially in six blocks of Ganjam, restoration would not be easy in the rest of the areas. The entire infrastructure would have to be rebuilt, he said.

Extensive damage had also been caused to power and water supply system in Brahmagiri and Krushnaprasad areas of Puri district and Daspalla area of Nayagarh district.

Meanwhile, a team led by Chairman of the Odisha Power Transmission Corporation Ltd (OPTCL) has left for Ganjam district for on the spot assessment of the situation before initiating concrete steps for restoration of electricity distribution which in turn would ensure water supply.

Relief and rescue operation was now in full swing in Balasore, Mayurbhanj, Bhadrak, Jajpur and Keonjhar districts which had also come under the surging flood waters as major rivers like Subarnarekha, Budhabalang, Baitarani and Jalaka were in spate, official sources said.

Teams from Army, Navy and IAF besides NDRF and ODRAF were deployed for rescue and relief operations in the flood-hit areas in the state.

Revenue Divisional Commissioner (Central), Aravind Padhee camped in Balasore to monitor relief work.

In Jajpur district, 102 villages under 34 gram panchayats of three blocks were affected by flood in river Baitarani, district Collector Anil Samal said.

As normalcy is returning in many cyclone affected areas of coastal Odisha, East Coast Railway (ECoR) has fully resumed its train services after the tracks have been cleared, a senior railway official said.

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