If Koshi river is responsible for the flood calamity in Bihar, then the Mahanadi is responsible for the devastating flood in Orissa. After 26 long years, the flood situation is very grim this year. Since 1982, the people of Orissa had not witnessed such a flood fury. Notwithstanding subsiding water level in rivers including the Mahanadi, gushing waters from over 100 breaches continued to submerge fresh areas engulfing village after village. About 46 flood-gates were opened to disburse the water of Mahanadi river. The misery does not end here, huge waters of Tel river along with branch rivers and heavy rains with low pressure has resulted in an abnormal life for the people of Orissa. The step-motherly attitude of the UPA government at the centre has been exposed by not declaring the current devastating flood as a natural calamity. When the Orissa Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik demanded 1500 crore from the National Calamity Fund, the union home minister announced merely 500 crore, which is in no way matching to the needs of the flood situation.
Heavy rains derailed flood relief efforts in Orissa, compounding misery of lakhs of victims as toll mounted to 50 with 11 fresh casualties reported from some places, while four persons went missing. 18 of the 30 districts are badly hit with heavy loss of human lives, animals and agricultural lands. Communication system is collapsed in districts like Sambalpur, Angul, Bolangir, Kalahandi, Subarnapur, Boudh, Nayagarh, Cuttack, Kendrapara, Jagatsinghpur, Jajpur, Puri and Khurda. The flood has affected 40 lakh people, 5772 villages, 21 municipal corporations, 129 blocks in which one lakh 26 thousand 319 houses are washed away. Four lakh 41 thousand 489 hectares agricultural field are destroyed, 194 cattle lives lost and 12 lakh 66 thousand 805 cattles are badly affected. Naval teams and personnel of the central para-military forces gave momentum to hitherto tardy relief and rescue operations. But the entire exercise still remained inadequate in view of limited manpower and inadequate number of boats, they said.
As many as 3,76,672 people have been evacuated to safer places in the flood-affected areas so far with the help of air force choppers and 1,513 boats, said state Revenue Minister Shri Manmohan Samal while talking to Organiser on the phone. When asked about any death due to water-borne diseases or due to want of medical help, Shri Samal said, ?Nobody has died of water-borne diseases during the flood and it has not taken any epidemic form. The cases reported are sporadic.? The government has arranged 272 medical teams to meet the present challenge, he said. Shri Samal added that relief operations have been stepped up and relief and rescue officials have reached all the 827 villages, which were marooned.
?Over 1,000 personnel, including navy and paramilitary troopers, continued relief and rescue operations in the affected areas with three Indian Air Force helicopters dropping food packets?, Shri Samal said and informed that the government has already disbursed 937 tonnes of polythene sheets to the roofless people in marooned villages.
?The air-droppings of food, water and medicines will continue for the next three days,? a government official said. However many victims said they have not received any relief, while some said they have received inadequate relief.
Launching a scathing attack on the centre for its silence over the demand of assistance made by the state government for flood-hit people, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik said he is disappointed and asked the UPA government to rise above political considerations during the natural calamity. Meanwhile, Shri L.K. Advani visited the flood-affected areas in Orissa and demanded to declare it a national calamity.
The state demanded Rs 1,500 crore from the National Calamity Contingency Fund (NCCF) in the wake of the severe flood, which affected nearly 37 lakh people. In this connection, Shri Patnaik has shot off a letter to the Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh stating that flood had caused a loss of property to the tune of Rs 2,500 crore.
Cause of the disaster
After Independence of India, Hirakud Dam is first of its type that was build to control the massive flood in the coastal areas of Orissa. Sixty years have passed but enough steps are not taken by successive governments to control the water of the Mahanadi. Tel river, the branch river of the Mahanadi, is also out of control due to lack of any project. The state government claims that it does not have sufficient funds to build the required infrastructure to control the flood every year. It is high time the union government announced a project to control the long-term disaster. It was an innovative scheme during the NDA government when it had suggested a detail plan for a river-linking project for the state, in which 1 lakh 52 crore rupees were to be spent. Under this project Mahanadi water basin was to be connected with the main river-system of the state such as rivers Subarnarekha, Brahmani, Baitarani and Budhabalanga. There is a seven-river system in Orissa out of which two rivers in southern Orissa, namely Bansadhara and Rushikulya were out of this river-linking project. But thanks to the apathetic attitude of the UPA government, which closed the chapter of river-linking system in the entire country. For Orissa, the river-linking project was a multiple comprehensive project in which three thousand mega watt power was to be generated with new dam at Tikarpada and a barrage for Tel river and that would have been permanent solution to overcome the curse of flood in Orissa. This innovative scheme for the state of Orissa was launched by Shri Atal Behari Vajpayee under the chairmanship of Shri Suresh Prabhu. Let knowledge prevail on the UPA government at the centre to act something for the state of Orissa instead of serving notices under Article 355 while the state government was in the midway of reaching the hapless people who were ravaged by the devastating flood.