BHUBANESWAR/RAYAGADA:A low pressure off Odisha coast triggered heavy rainfall in western and adjoining southern districts sending Nagavali and Kalyani rivers in spate which snapped road communication in Rayagada and Kalahandi districts and left hundreds marooned on Sunday.
The State 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 where 12 villages were badly hit. One chopper is expected to reach the district on Monday morning from Vizag for air-dropping of food packets.
In neighbouring Kalahandi’s Thuamul-Rampur block, cut off from the mainstream, a panchayat samiti member’s husband died in a landslide caused by the heavy rains and flood.
Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, who reviewed the situation, said Army has also been sounded 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 School. Later, the students were shifted to a hostel where they are safe. Two villagers who had climbed trees to escape the flood water and 12 persons taking shelter on rooftops were taken to safety by fire fighters.Two pregnant women in labour pain were rescued by medical teams.
Five bridges were washed away by the rivers which caused massive damage to communication 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 Titlagarh-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 Majhiguda High School and Kalyansinghpur ME School while cooked food was supplied to affected people in 10 gram panchayats of Rayagada block, Special Relief Commissioner (SRC) Bishnupada Sethi said.
Two units of the ODRAF reached Rayagada from Koraput while three 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. SRC Sethi said the naval chopper apart, two Dornier aircraft are at standby in Bhubaneswar. A team of senior officers including Director, Health Services, Chief Engineers of Works and Rural Development Departments are on their way to coordinate the restoration work.
Intense rainfall in the last 24 hours caused the flash floods. Thuamul-Rampur recorded a whopping 260 mm rainfall while Rayagada district averaged 85 mm 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, a dozen trains were cancelled while 10 more were either diverted or short-terminated. The East Coast Railway rushed senior officers to affected areas to start track restoration work once water level recedes. Control rooms have been opened at Bhubaneswar, Sambalpur, Khurda Road and Visakhapatnam 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.