BALASORE: Despite huge hue and cry over delay in distribution of relief materials during floods in the past, the district administration seems to have learnt no lesson. Though the recent floods fortunately spared the coastal district without much devastation, it exposed lack of preparedness on the part of the administration.
Sources said the administration had kept 21 power boats ready for rescue and relief operations. Of the total population of nearly 23.17 lakh in 12 blocks and four urban local bodies of the district, about 12 lakh people live in the flood prone areas. People dealing with natural calamities felt that 21 boats for 12 lakh people at a ratio of 1:57,000 is nothing but a joke.
Earlier, during major floods, the administration used to deploy 120 boats, including power boats and country made motorised boats, which too fell short to meet the requirement. While power boats are engaged to rescue people from marooned villages, country made boats transport relief materials to cut off areas. The administration on several occasions in the past has drawn flak for mismanagement in tackling flood situation, but unfortunately the same mistakes are repeated every year.
A local leader from Baliapal, Rabindra Giri, said the block remains cut off for days together when there is a major flood in Subarnarekha and Jalaka rivers. Thousands of people get stranded and relief materials fail to reach them due to disruption in road connectivity.
The officials, however, tried to interpret it in a different way. District Emergency Officer P Padmanav Dora said though the district had 25 power boats, four of those are defunct. “During flood, we too take the help of country made boats and if required, seek more boats from the relief commissioner. This time, only eight boats were deployed,” he added.
Meanwhile, relief material has reached the strategic locations in the district. The flood affected people alleged that even three days after the flood, they are yet to get the relief materials.
Official sources said 432 villages in Sadar, Remuna, Soro, Simulia, Khaira, Nilagiri and Bahanaga blocks of the district and 7 Wards in the municipality area have been affected by the flash floods in Budhabalanga, Jalaka, Sono and Kansabansa rivers. While 1.5 lakh people have been affected, crop in 85,067 ha has been damaged. So far, six persons have reportedly died.
Barring 13 quintals of flattened rice and 130 kgs of jaggery in Simulia block and 8 quintals of flattened rice and 80 kgs of jaggery in Khaira block, no relief material has been provided to the affected people in other blocks. Total 87 villages have been affected in both the blocks.
The official report also corroborates people’s claims. Even as 149 villages in Remuna block, 93 villages in Sadar, 67 in Bahanaga and 27 in Soro block have been declared flood hit, not a single kg of rice or flattened rice has been distributed in these areas.
Surprisingly, the administration has supplied only 23,000 water pouches to 1,39,419 flood-hit people in last three days. People from Soro and Bahanaga, where nearly 30 villages are still marooned, said they are at the mercy of other villagers living on highland.
Even as the administration claimed that 1,06,820 animals and 74,392 poultry birds have been affected, no fodder has been distributed.
The district administration had kept just 21 power boats ready for rescue and relief operations in wake of flood
People dealing with natural calamities felt that 21 boats for 12 lakh people at a ratio of 1:57,000 is nothing but a joke