Odisha flood waters yet to recede

Fearing another deluge, villagers opt to stay in temporary houses

Odisha flood waters yet to recede

The water is yet to fully recede in several villages in Odisha, despite almost a week already going by since flooding in different rivers devastated several districts in the state, claimed 46 lives and rendered lakhs of people homeless.

In fact, according to figures available in the office of the state’s special relief commissioner, as many as 62 villages in three coastal districts were still marooned as of Friday evening. The population surrounded by water in these 62 villages is 71,178.

Of these 62 villages, 59 were in the coastal district of Puri. The population in the district still marooned by flood waters is 67,263. Of 30 revenue districts in the state, 23 were affected by the floods. And Puri was one of the worst-hit.

Official sources in the revenue department said the fall in the water level was slow in Puri's villages as majority of them are located in low-lying areas.

“However, we hope that the situation will improve over the next few days,” said an official in the revenue and disaster management department.

Shasank Behera, a resident of a village in Kanas block of Puri district who works in a hotel in capital Bhubaneswar, concurred. “It is a fact that the floods this time inundated many villages in low-lying areas of our district. It will take some time for the water to come down,” said Behera, who returned to his workplace on Thursday after a visit to his family in the village.

Behera added that many people who had returned home after the water receded fully or partially from their villages were reluctant to reconstruct their thatched houses, fearing more flooding. They were instead opting to construct a temporary home and stay there till the end of the monsoon season.

“We are in the middle of the monsoon season. There have been instances when the state was hit by floods as late as first week of October,” said Behera, adding that no reconstruction could be why there has no clamour yet for house damage assistance from the government.

According to a government estimate, as many as 43,507 houses were damaged in the 23 affected districts during the recent floods.

Floods have already hit the state twice this season, despite the late arrival of monsoon. They occurred following heavy rain under the impact of a series of low-pressure systems in the Bay of Bengal.

According to a calculation by the local Met office, Odisha has already recorded 20 per cent surplus rainfall this season.

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