BHUBANESWAR/RAYAGADA: A low pressure off Odisha coast triggered huge rainfall in western and adjoining southern districts sending Nagaravali and Kalyani rivers in spate which snapped road communication in Rayagada and Kalahandi and left hundreds marooned on Sunday.
The Odisha government has sought four helicopters from Indian Air Force (IAF) for rescue and relief operations in
Kalyansinghpur and Rayagada, the two most affected blocks in the district. One of the choppers is expected to reach the district on Monday morning from Vizag for air-dropping food packets.
In the neighbouring Kalahandi district’s Thuamul-Rampur block, cut off from the mainstream, a panchayat samiti member’s husband died in a land slide caused by the heavy rains and flood.
Chief minister Naveen Patnaik who reviewed the situation said, Army has been asked for help while Government is making all efforts to mount a massive relief and rescue operation. He asked development commissioner R Balakrishnan to coordinate with all departments.
It was Rayagada’s Kalyansinghpur which was the worst hit with 80 per cent of the block facing inundation. As many as 160 students were trapped after the flood water surrounded Buddaguda Ashram High. Later, the students were shifted to a hostel where they are safe. Two villagers who had climbed trees to escape the flood water were rescued by fire fighters.
Three bridges were washed away by the rivers which caused massive damage to road transportation in the district. Flood water overtopped the Rayagada–Andhra Pradesh road while the railway bridge between Therubali and Singapur Road station was washed away leaving communication through Titilagarh-Rayagada section cut off.
With rains lashing, all the schools and colleges in Kalyansinghpur block will remain closed till July 19.
The state government also announced seven-day emergent food assistance to the affected people. Two free kitchens were opened at Majhihada High School and Kalyansinghpur ME School, while cooked food was serviced to affected areas in the eight gram panchayats of Rayagada block, special relief commissioner Bishnupada Sethi said.
Two units of the Odisha Disaster Rapid Action Force (ODRAF) reached Rayagada from Koraput while three National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) units are on their way.
Balakrishnan said, as soon as the weather conditions are suitable for choppers to land, the relief operations will start. “We are hoping for intensity of the rains to reduce so that water level in the two rivers can recede,” he said.
Special relief commissioner Sethi said, a team of senior officers including director, health Services, chief engineers of Works and Rural Development Departments are on their way to coordinate with restoration work.
Intense rainfall in the last 24 hours caused the flashfloods. Thuamul-Rampur recorded a whopping 260 mm rainfall while Rayagada districts averaged 85 mm rainfall with Kashipur registering 238 mm. Gunupur also recorded 110 mm.
State highways from Rayagada to neighbouring districts were hit while access to Thuamul-Rampur was cut off. Road communication to Bhawanipatna town was also closed.
As a result of the floods, dozen trains were cancelled while another ten were either diverted or short-terminated.
Chief public relations officers of East Coast Railway JP Mishra said, senior officers have been rushed to the areas to start restoration work once water level recedes. Control rooms have been opened at Bhubaneswar, Sambalpur, Khurda Road and Vishakhapatnam under the direction of GM Umesh Singh.
All neighbouring districts of Rayagada have been instructed to provide the required manpower and material support to Rayagada district.