State air-drops food, seeks more choppers

Bhubaneswar: With flood situation in four north Orissa districts remaining grim, the state government today started air-dropping of food packets as 992 villages continued to be marooned for the second consecutive day.

"It is not practically possible to open free kitchens in worst-hit Jajpur district as flood water had submerged all the places in four blocks.

Air-dropping of food packets is the only alternative left with us," state Revenue and Disaster Management minister S N Patro told reporters.

Stating that two helicopters had already been pressed into the service, Patro said four more choppers are likely to be deployed in relief operation.

Though the second spell flood had affected eight districts, Jajpur, Bhadrak, Kendrapara and Keonjhar had been severely affected due to very high flood in Brahmani and Baitarani rivers.

Balasore district was also hit by flood water of Subarnarekha river while Angul and Dhenkanal districts were affected due to flood in Brahmani river, he said.

Meanwhile, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik held talks with Home Minister P Chidambaram and Defence Minister A K Antony seeking more choppers and boats for rescue and relief work.

"This is a very strong flood in Jajpur, Kendrapara and Bhadrak districts," Patnaik said, adding that the state government was taking all possible steps to provide succour and relief to 15.40 lakh population in the eight districts.

"I tried to speak to the Prime Minister on the flood situation. But, it was not possible as he was abroad.

" Senior officials were deputed to supervise rescue and relief operation in these three worst-hit districts where people were trapped on rooftops with their houses submerged by flood water of Brahmani and Baitarani.