Snakes add to woes of Orissa’s flood hit

September 23rd, 2008 - 2:01 pm ICT by IANS  

Shivraj PatilBhubaneswar, Sep 23 (IANS) It continued to pour in Orissa Tuesday adding to the woes of its four million flood hit people many of whom found themselves facing a new adversary — snakes. The incessant rains that led to the Mahanadi river and its tributaries overflowing their banks has claimed at least 29 lives and affected about four million people in 18 of the state’s 30 districts. Of these, about 500,000 were displaced.

About 300,000 people evacuated in the past five days have been staying in high-rise buildings, schools and cyclone shelters after their houses were destroyed in the disaster.

While they struggle for food and shelter, they are also battling snakes.

According to Revenue Secretary G.V. Venugopala Sarma, at least one person has died of snake bite in Kendrapada district. The state government, he said, is doing its bit by sending anti venom medicines and deputing special medical teams to the affected areas.

But it may not be enough.

“A large number of snakes are swimming in the waters; some are alive and some are dead,” said Debendranath Mahali, a resident of Pundilo in the worst hit district of Kendrapada.

His house has been submerged for the last four days and he spends his nights awake for fear of snakes.

Relief and rescue officials are yet to reach some villages because of heavy currents that make it difficult for boats to ply, admitted Sarma.

“The situation has improved in some places but the situation continues to remain grim in some areas of the coastal districts of Cuttack, Puri, Kendrapada and Jagatsinghpur,” Sarma told IANS.

Navy personnel and paramilitary forces Tuesday joined the relief and rescue mission, hoping to reach the marooned people.

“No relief has reached us even though we have been stranded for four days with only the open skies for shelter,” said Sukumari Maharana, 50, from the town of Puri who has been spending her days on the highway that connects the state capital Bhubaneswar to the temple town.

Thousands of people huddle under rudimentary tents made of plastic sheeting and bamboo poles when it rains.

Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik has blamed the central government for not lending a helping hand during the crisis. Home Minister Shivraj Patil is scheduled to visit affected areas Tuesday.

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