A flood alert was on Wednesday sounded in Orissa's coastal deltaic plains as the Mahanadi, the state's biggest river system, threatened to inundate large areas in at least seven districts.
"We are expecting a massive sheet of water to flow down the river following heavy rainfall in the lower catchment region of the river," Special Relief Commissioner Jagadananada Panda told.
Collectors of the districts threatened with inundation have been alerted and all measures are being taken to tackle the possible situation, he said.
While the Naraj delta head near Cuttack city was equipped to handle about 10 lakh cusecs of water, authorities were apprehending that they would have to contend with about 11 lakh cusecs of water by midnight on Wednesday night, Panda said.
People living in low-lying areas are being asked to shift to safer places. The districts being threatened are Cuttack, Kendrapara, Jajpur, Jagatsinghpur, Puri, Khurda and Nayagarh.
As such, Jajpur district had already been hit by floods after the Brahmani and Baitarani rivers overtopped their embankments last week.
The Mahanadi, downstream of the huge Hirakud dam near Sambalpur, is mainly fed by the Tel river, the catchment of which had experienced heavy rainfall during the last 24 hours.