The Odisha government, on Saturday night, put on alert the administrations of Mayurbhanj and Balasore amid a possibility of a major flood in the two districts as river Subarnarekha has swelled due to heavy rain and subsequent water release from Jharkhand's Galudih barrage.
The State, which is already reeling under flood in the Mahanadi river system with around 4.7 lakh people marooned in the East, is now been facing similar challenges in the northern region.
At least four persons, including two minor girls, have died in rain-related incidents, including wall collapses, on Friday.
NDRF, ODRAF pressed into service
Odisha’s Special Relief Commissioner (SRC) PK Jena said teams of NDRF, ODRAF along with fire services personnel have been rushed to Balasore to aid in the relief operations. “Galudih barrage in Jharkhand has released 4.5 lakh cusec water through 16 gates. All panchayat functionaries, self-help groups have been asked to help with evacuation operations in the vulnerable areas,” Odisha’s Special Relief Commissioner (SRC) PK Jena said.
Taking to Twitter, he also said that alert has been issued in Balasore and Mayurbhanj districts. He urged the water resources department to ensure availability of “flood-fighting” materials for the rescue personnel and common people.
Odisha Water Resources Department Chief Engineer BK Mishra said that water levels in Subarnarekha, Budhabalang, Baitarani and Salandi have all risen after heavy rainfall on Friday. "Though there has been a rise in the water levels in all northern Odisha rivers, we did not expect any major flood. Subarnarekha, however, may overtop the banks. The river has swelled further after receiving waters from neighbouring Jharkhand,” Mishra said during the day.
The SRC predicted that the flood waters released from Jharkhand will reach Mayurbhanj in 30 hours. Keeping in view the current situation, the State government has deployed adequate rescue and relief teams in Mayurbhanj and Balasore districts. As Keonjhar did not receive any significant downpour, the possibility of flood in river Baitarani is minimum, the SRC said, adding that a low to medium flood could be witnessed in the Budhabalang river system, which also originated in Mayurbhanj district.
The weatherman said that two stations in Odisha received torrential rainfall, while 27 others experienced downpours, and 49 stations received heavy showers on Friday night.
Bhogorai in Balasore district received 226 mm rainfall, the highest in the state in 24 hours till 8.30 am on Saturday. It was followed by 211 mm in Phiringia area of Kandhamal and 196.4 mm in Nawana of Mayurbhanj district.
Talking about the Mahanadi river system, the SRC the upper catchment area of Hirakud reservoir did not receive much rain, but the lower portion did. Rainfall in the districts of Kandhamal, Boudh, Kalahandi and some other places may further add to the water level of Mahanadi, he said.
However, a total of 7 to 7.5 lakh cusec water will be discharged through Mundali Barrage near Cuttack to ensure that the pressure on the system does not mount further, he explained.
Meanwhile, a country boat, carrying 45 passengers, was swept away by strong currents in the flooded Mahanadi river in Kendrapara district. “The passengers were rescued by Marine Police and Fire Service personnel,” Jena said. The SRC appealed to people to exercise caution while wading through flood waters.
The IMD, in its 9 PM bulletin, said that a deep depression over Southwest Jharkhand and adjoining Northwest Odisha and North Chhattisgarh has moved west-northwestwards. It would continue to move west-northwestwards across North Chhattisgarh towards north Madhya Pradesh and weaken into a depression.
The weather office has issued an orange alert of heavy to very heavy rainfall (7 to 20 cm) for one or two places in the districts of Jharsuguda, Sundargarh, Deogarh, Sambalpur and Bargarh. It also predicted heavy rainfall (7 to 11 cm) at isolated places in Mayurbhanj, Keonjhar, Angul, Boudh, Sonepur, Kalahandi, Kandhamal, Nuapada among other districts.