Flood situation improves in Odisha; death toll climbs to 24
The flood situation in Odisha improved marginally Sunday, paving way for the administration to expedite the relief and restoration work, Special Relief Commissioner (SRC) B P Sethi said.
Heavy rain pounded Odisha over the last three days following Cyclone Titli’s landfall on Gopalpur in the southwestern part of the state. The death toll due to the cyclonic storm mounted to 24 Sunday after 15 people were reportedly killed in a landslide at Barghar area in Gajapati, around 50 km from the district headquarters town of Paralakhemundi.
While 13 bodies were found Saturday night, two more bodies were pulled out of the rubble Sunday morning, Paralakhemundi Sub-Divisional Police Officer T P Patra stated.
Sethi, however, said the situation has “considerably improved in Ganjam and Gajapati districts, with water receding from low-lying areas and roads being cleared of tree trunks and electric poles”.
“Electricity supply has been restored in many places in Ganjam, one of the worst-affected districts in the state. In Gajapati, too, the Odisha Forest Development Corporation (OFDC) personnel have been pressed into service to clear roads by removing the uprooted trees,” Sethi told reporters after a review meeting with Chief Secretary A P Padhi.
Stating that the cyclone had extensively damaged the standing crops in many affected areas, the SRC said a loss assessment will be made in the next few days and assistance will be doled out accordingly to the affected farmers.
In Ganjam, vast stretches of the two towns of Aska and Proshuttampur were submerged in rain water over the past two days, District Collector Vijay Amruta Kulange said.
The relief team had to air drop food packets for the stranded people in these areas, he said.
The SRC clarified that floodwater has subsided in Ganjam, Gajapati and Rayagada districts in the past 24 hours.
“As people are returning homes following improvement in weather conditions, food will not be provided in the relief camps in these districts anymore,” he said.
Talking about the landslip incident in Gajapati, Sethi said the state government has decided to provide Rs 4 lakh ex-gratia to families of each of the deceased.
Three additional ODRAF and two NDRF teams will be dispatched to Gajapati to step up restoration work, he said.
Of the 24 people killed in flood-related incidents in the state, seven were from Ganjam and three from Kandhamal.
“Although, it will take time to restore the flood-affected areas, the subsiding water level at major rivers has brought relief to the people. The Budhabalanga river is flowing much below the danger mark near Barunighat,” Sethi said.
But the situation is yet to change for better in Mayurbhanj district, where the villagers are still reeling under flood-like situation, the SRC said.
“The water from overflowing Budhabalanga and Gangahara rivers has gushed into around 14 villages in Badasahi block on Mayurbhanj. Road communication between Basta and Baliapal too continues to remain disrupted with Jalaka river still flowing above the danger mark,” he added.
Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik had on Saturday announced a 15-day monetary relief package for people affected by Cyclone Titli and the subsequent flood.
Patnaik, who made an aerial survey of the cyclone-hit areas of Ganjam, Gajapati and Rayagada districts, said a family of four will be assisted with around Rs 3,000 as relief.