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Water enters Athgarh villages

- Rivers in spate, 14 districts face flood threat

Bhubaneswar, Aug. 4: Torrential rain and swelling rivers have exposed 14 districts of the state to flood threat, while floodwaters of the Mahanadi have already entered a number of villages in Athgarh and Banki areas of Cuttack district.

Incessant rain spurred by a low-pressure system in the Bay of Bengal has affected normal life in some of these districts, including Sambalpur, Mayurbhanj, Sundargarh and Balasore.

Rain have also been pounding the remaining 10 districts of Bhadrak, Keonjhar, Jagatsinghpur, Jajpur, Kendrapara, Cuttack, Khurda, Puri, Nayagarh and Boudh causing rivers to swell.

The threat of inundation has become all the more real in the coastal districts with floodwaters being discharged from the Hirakud reservoir on the Mahanadi expected to cross the Mundali barrage near Cuttack tonight.

Sources said five more gates of the reservoir, the biggest in the state, were unlocked following heavy rain in the upper basin of the Mahanadi river system. The water is being discharged from as many as 17 sluice gates of the Hirakud dam.

“At present 8 million cusecs of water is passing through the Mundali barrage. It will touch nearly 10 lakh cusecs tonight,” said an official of the water resources department.

Waters of Mahanadi today entered Bhattarika, one of the most famous shakti pithas (female deity shrine) of the state, in Cuttack district.

“The idol of the deity has been shifted to a safer place on a hill. There is nearly four feet high water inside the temple and it continues to rise,” Rabi Sahu, a local resident told The Telegraph over phone.

With Mahanadi in spate, floodwaters have entered a number of villages in Athgarh and Banki areas of Cuttack district. Similarly, Basta, Bhograi and Jaleswar of Balasore, Chandbali in Bhadrak and Dasarathpur block in Jajpur have been marooned as the Baitarani, Budhabalang, Subarnarekha and Salandi have overflown their banks.

Under its impact, the Bhadrak-Anandpur road has also been cut off.

In south Odisha, Bansadhara river has crossed the danger level at Gunpur. The Hati river, too, is flowing above the danger mark at Junagarh in Kalahandi district.

In view of the floods, the East Coast Railway (ECR) today cancelled the Rourkela-Koraput Express and Visakhapatnam-Koraput Express and short-terminated five other trains. While the Angul-Sambalpur route has been disrupted with water flowing on the tracks between Sargipalli and Handapa stations, an ECR official said that the Sambalpur-Koraput passenger and the Koraput-Visakhapatnam Express would remain cancelled on August 5.

Chief minister Naveen Patnaik reviewed the situation at an emergency meeting here asking officials to start free kitchens in the affected areas and provide sufficient cattle feed to the people in the villages.

Special relief commissioner P.K. Mohapatra said: “District collectors have been asked to evacuate people from the low-lying areas. We are hopeful of averting a major flood.” What worries the administration, however, is the weatherman’s prediction about a low-pressure system in the Bay of Bengal triggering heavy rains in certain areas of the state over the next 24 hours.

“If that turns out to be true, it will play havoc. More because there is a full moon on August 10, which would cause high tides and block the flow of water from rivers into the sea,” said an official of the water resource department.