Orissa flood victims struggle for food, drinking water

September 22nd, 2008 - 1:03 pm ICT by IANS  

Bhubaneswar, Sep 22 (IANS) Thousands of flood victims in Orissa continued to struggle for food and drinking water Monday as the overflowing Mahanadi river and its tributaries kept 570,000 people marooned. The floods have killed 17 people and affected three million, according to official figures.The survivors took shelter on river banks, high rise buildings, schools and cyclone shelters as their houses and other belongings were destroyed by the floodwaters.

“We have not received any relief yet,” Raghunath Sahu, a flood victim at Banki town in the costal district of Cuttack, said. The floodwaters submerged hundreds of acres of farmland and houses in various districts four days ago.

“We are living with the dry food we managed to save but that is now over. If relief does not come here we all will face trouble,” Sahu told a television reporter who managed to reach the region.

Like Sahu thousands of other victims are stranded in different places and complain that relief has not reached them. Only victims who managed to reach the highway on their own are getting relief materials.

“The state government dropped relief and water packets in some areas but that is inadequate,” a worker of a non-government organisation engaged in relief and rescue operation in the worst hit district of Kendrapada said.

“At least 570,000 people are marooned after more than 40 fresh breaches in different river embankments in various parts of the state,” Orissa Revenue Secretary G.V. Venugopala Sarma told IANS.

He said there were a total of 61 embankment breaches. “Relief and rescue workers are facing trouble to reach many of these villages because water has huge current and they are not able to move on boats,” Sarma said. “It is a severe flood.”

“Air dropping is the only option and we are trying to reach them. The state government is dropping relief packets with the help of three helicopters.”

The state government said it evacuated about 300,000 people in the past four days and more people are being evacuated as the floodwaters enter fresh areas.

Triggered by heavy rain in Orissa and the upper catchment of the Mahanadi in Chhatisgarh last week, the floods have hit 17 of 30 districts in Orissa. The problem was compounded manifold after a huge quantity of water entered the Hirakud reservoir forcing the authorities to open some 40 of its 64 sluice gates.

The release of water from the dam has caused devastation in the coastal districts of Cuttack, Puri, Jagatsinghpur and Kendrapada. Officials said the problem may worsen in these districts in the next two-three days.

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