Bhubaneswar: The flood situation in several northern Odisha districts, including Balasore, turned grim on Monday, with the swollen rivers inundating low-lying areas, leaving people in at least 134 villages marooned, officials said.
Rivers such as Subarnarekha, Budhabalang, Jalaka and Baitarani in north Odisha are in spate due to heavy rain caused by a deep depression over the Bay of Bengal, and subsequent flood water release from Jharkhand, they said.
As many as 251 villages in the districts of Balasore, Mayurbhanj, Jajpur and Bhadrak have been impacted by the north Odisha floods, while the total number of affected population crossed 9.66 lakhs, the officials said.
Odisha had already been reeling under the impact of a medium flood in the east with the overflowing Mahanadi river inundating paddy fields and villages.
As many as 6.4 lakh people remain marooned in the twin floods, according to officials.
The state government is currently operating 440 relief centres, where above 1.71 people are being fed cooked meals, they said.
Authorities in Balasore and Mayurbhanj districts had on Sunday launched a massive evacuation drive to shift people from vulnerable areas to safer locations.
The evacuation process continued even as flood water entered the villages.
Water level in Subarnarekha river, though gradually dipping, is still flowing above the danger mark, Odisha’s water resources minister Tukuki Sahu said in the evening.
Many villages in Baliapal, Bhograi, Basta and Jaleswar blocks of Balasore lay inundated, the minister stated.
Not just Subarnarekha river, waters from river Budhabalang and Jalaka have also overtopped banks and entered fields and residential areas in Balasore, officials in the water resources department said.
In Jajpur district, water from the Baitarani river inundated a number of blocks, including Dasrathpur and Korei, while in Keonjhar, several places in Hatadihi, Ghasipura and Anandapur have gone under water.
“Nearly 156 villages in 83 gram panchayats of Balasore district have been hit by the flood. The administration has evacuated 40,000 people by Monday noon. They have put up in 227 temporary shelters,” Balasore District Collector Dattatraya Bhausaheb Shinde said.
The state government has announced a seven-day relief package for the marooned people of Balasore, Mayurbhanj, Bhadrak, Keonjhar and Jajpur districts, a release from the Chief Minister’s Office said.
Special Relief Commissioner P K Jena has written to district collectors of Khurda, Puri, Cuttack, Kendrapara, Jagatsinghpur, Nayagarh, Balasore, Bhadrak, Keonjhar and Boudh, asking them to distribute sanitary napkins free of cost to women in the flood-hit areas.
Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik had on Sunday delegated the powers of special relief commissioner to the collector of Balasore district for effective administration. A helicopter was also placed at his disposal to deal with any emergency.
Meanwhile, the IMD predicted more rainfall for Balasore on Tuesday and Wednesday.
“We will take appropriate action keeping in view the IMD’s forecast,” said water resources department chief engineer BJ Mishra.
Mr Mishra also said that flood in the Mahanadi delta region is well under control, though many villages still remain marooned due to “very slow discharge of water”.