Flood-hit Odisha now copes with snakes

Double whammy

Phagu Samal, a resident of a submerged village in Chandbali block of the flood hit Bhadrak district, had a horrifying experience to narrate about an incident last Tuesday.

As he was sleeping inside his makeshift tent on the Chandbali-Bhadrak highway, where he had shifted along with his family after flood water entered his village,  he felt a sensation on his legs.

“When I opened my eyes I was stunned to see a big snake slowly crossing over my legs. I kept quiet and did not move my body. The snake moved away and went out of the tent”, he said.

Samal was lucky but not many others, particularly in the marooned villages, for whom the menace of poisonous snakes has become a major headache. Last Monday, residents of a half submerged village in Tihidi block managed to rescue four people after the country boat they were traveling in capsized in river Baitarani. The four were carrying a snake-bite victim to Tihidi block headquarters hospital. He, however, did not survive the mishap. There are also instances of family members of snake bite victims throwing the dead bodies of their dear ones into the over-flowing rivers.

Ambika Mohapatra, a daily labourer from Patri village was fleeing to a safer place along with his family after flood water entered their village when his ten year old daughter Rasmi was beaten in her leg by a poisonous snake. Her body turned blue. She died a few minutes later.

“As there was water everywhere and there was no place to perform her last rites, I had no other option but to throw her dead body into the flood waters,” said Mohapatra who has now taken shelter on a river embankment.

A Bhadrak district official said: “In all the four worst flood hit blocks of Tihidi, Chandbali, Dhamnagar and Bhandaripokhari,  snake menace has become a major problem. We have already conveyed this to our higher authorities in Bhubaneswar.”

The administration’s explanation has failed to impress the flood victims. The snake menace has surfaced in other severely flood affected districts of Jajpur and Kendrapara, too. Meanwhile, for the second consecutive day on Wednesday, flood hit people in different areas of the Bhadrak district protested against the district administration’s failure to provide them adequate relief.

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