State attributes climate change for floods

Bhubaneswar: With the state government holding the climate change phenomeon as responsible for the back to back floods in the state which killed at least 87 people, opposition Congress on Thursday walked out of the assembly terming the calamity as "man-made."

"The flood in the state was an impact of the climate change at global level. The change is certainly man made and not the flood," Revenue and Disaster Management Minister S N Patro told the assembly to an adjournment debate here.

Rejecting the opposition allegation, the minister said the successive floods during the month of September was due to the impact of a low pressure. Though there was inadequate rainfall in the state during the month of July and August, all of a sudden the state experienced heavy downpour due to a low pressure.

The heavy rainfall at upper catachment areas of the river in Chhattishgarh and Jharkhand region flooded Mahanadi river system, the minister said claiming that there was no mismanagement of flood waters in Hirakud dam.

"Keeping in view the safety of the Dam, 59 gates of Hirakud were opened to discharge excess water which led to a devastating flood in Mahanadi delta region," he said.

Similarly, another low pressure-induced rainfall also caused heavy second spell of flood in the rivers of Subarnarekha, Baitarani and Brahmani, the minister said.

The opposition Congress, however, termed the September floods as `man-made` and blamed it on the state government.

"The flood is man made as the government failed to manage the flood water despite having a reservoir at Hirakud," Congress Chief Whip Prasad Harichandan said adding that the state government created the floods keeping a view on the ensuing panchayat polls.

Claiming the 2008 floods had paid rich dividend to the ruling BJD in the subsequent general elections in 2009, Harichandan said, "the govenrment created the floods in September to woo people by distributing relief."

Leader of opposition Bhupinder Singh of Congress also claimed that the state government had admitted on October 29 that it created the floods. "Over the years we have created and managed many disasters," Singh said quoting Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik.

Though the Chief Minister`s Office (CMO) had subequently clarified that it was a slip of tongue of the Patnaik, Singh said "we have not seen the government denying the CM`s statement to television channels."

BJP member Jaynarayan Mishra also termed the September floods as "man-made."We claim that the flood is man made as the government did not take any preventive measures to avoid such a flood," Mishra said.

Accusing the Centre of having indifferent attitude, the ruling BJD members pointed out that the state was yet to get any assistance even as a central team visited the flood affected areas.

Besides, the chief minister had also taken up the matter relating to flood assiatnce with Union Home Minister P Chidambaram and Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar.

Though the state government had demanded an assistance of Rs 3265.38 crore for the twin floods, it was yet to receive any assistance from the Centre, the minister said.