647 villages still marooned in Odisha

Bhubaneswar: Though flood situation in Odisha's five northen districts triggered by Cyclone Phailin and resultant rains slightly improved today, people of 647 villages continued to be marooned, while the death toll in the twin calamities stood at 28.

With water level in major rivers receding, the state government today decided to demobilise defence forces comprising of personnel from the Army, Navy and Air Force.

However, the local unit of NDRF would remain deployed in the flood-affected areas of Balasore district, special relief commissioner (SRC) P K Mohapatra told reporters here.

"Flood situation has improved except in four blocks – Basta, Bhograi, Jaleswar and Baliapal of Balasore district and waters receded in eight other blocks," he said, adding 647 villages in 83 panchayats still remained marooned.

Flood water has also receded in Mayurbhanj, Bhadrak, Jajpur and Keonjhar and the government has decided to stop air dropping of food packets as all area are now approachable by motor boats, Revenue Divisional Commissioner (RDC), central division, Aravind Padhee said.

The RDC said about 96,000 flood affected people of Balasore district are now sheltered in relief camps.

"Eighty per cent of people in relief camps will leave for their houses by the evening," Padhee said.

In Jajpur district, though flood waters remained stagnant in 66 villages under 24 gram panchayats, they are approachable by boat and roads. About 70 villages of Bhadrak district were still flooded, he said.

"We expect fresh floods in 30 villages of four gram panchayats under Chandbali block of Bhadrak as water of river Baitarani would flow into the sea through this channel," Mohapatra said, adding 1.73 lakh people were evacuated in the wake of the floods in Subarnarekha, Budhabalang, Baitarani and Jalaka rivers.

Stating that relief distribution was now the only priority in both cyclone and flood hit areas, Chief Secretary J K Mohapatra said the state government has thanked the defence forces for their support and assistance during the twin calamities.

The government has expedited restoration work in Ganjam and other cyclone-hit districts and a timeline has been fixed for completion of works, he said.