BHUBANESWAR: After threatening to flood the deltaic region, the Mahanadi river relented on Thursday as its peak discharge at Munduli stayed just about 11 lakh cusec, much below what coastal Odisha districts were dreading.
The water flow fell further during the day to 10.34 lakh cusec and the State Government asserted that the situation would improve in the next 36 hours as there will be no rainfall in the catchments of Mahanadi. Even the fresh low pressure, which has formed off north Odisha coast, may not cause much problem since the precipitation zone will be centred over Balasore and Mayurbhanj, it claimed.
Though a major flood was averted, there was no escape from misery for thousands of villagers caught in the swirling waters. Over 4 lakh people remained marooned in 830 villages even as the rivers showed signs of receding.
Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik made an aerial survey of Jajpur, Bhadrak, Cuttack and Puri districts, which have faced the maximum damage in the floods. He also announced seven days free relief to the affected people in these districts.
In Jajpur district alone, 478 villages remained cut off from the mainland with very little relief and support reaching the people. Kendrapara also saw 109 villages marooned. At least 30 breaches on river embankments have been reported so far.
Special Relief Commissioner Pradipta Kumar Mohapatra said 17.88 lakh people have been affected by the flood and the rains in about 4,000 villages of 23 districts. Crops over 2.08 lakh hectare, a quarter of which was in Jajpur district alone, were damaged by the floods, he said.
Reports coming in from Dasarathpur, Bari and Barchana blocks of Jajpur, Banki, Athagarh and Tigiria of Cuttack, Dhamnagar and Bhadrak Sadar of Bhadrak, Kanas and Delang in Puri stated that hundreds of families continued to face untold misery as the administration struggled to reach them. The human casualty in the floods have, meanwhile, risen to 35 with one more death reported on Thursday.
However, bolstered by the improved conditions in Mahanadi river system, the Government controlled release of water from Hirakud reservoir to manage the flood over the next two days. Six sluice gates were shut down in the morning and the dam managers were contemplating to close four more by night.
The 10.34 lakh cusec discharge recorded at Munduli at 6 pm on Thursday would drop in the range of 9-9.5 lakh cusec over the next 12 hours before rising by another one lakh cusec by August 9 morning.
“By that time, we will have controlled the water release from Hirakud. We plan to keep both the inflow and outflow at 6.70 lakh cusec so that pressure on Mahanadi is eased and at the same time, the reservoir evacuates sufficient water,” Secretary, Water Resources department, Suresh Chandra Mohapatra said.
The Government was hopeful that in the next 48 hours, the discharge in Mahanadi would drop further.
Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik made an aerial survey of Jajpur, Bhadrak, Cuttack and Puri districts, which have faced the maximum damage in the floods
Crops over 2.08 lakh hectare, a quarter of which was in Jajpur district alone, were damaged by the floods
7 days free relief to the affected population in affected dists