Heavy showers throw life out of gear in Odisha

Life continued to be affected in several parts of western and southern Odisha on Friday following incessant rainfall. The situation will only get worse with the weatherman predicting heavy rainfall in the next 48 hours across the state due to a low pressure over the Bay of Bengal. Many pockets in Jharsuguda and Sambalpur districts are submerged while at least eight panchayats in Kandhamal were cut-off after roads were washed way in the rainwater.

Jharsuguda on Thursday received a record rainfall of more than 700 mm. Kolabira block of the district remained cut off from most parts of the state as the bridge over Ramkumar nullah had been completely washed away. Traffic on NH 49 (Lakhanpur-Chandikhol) was also disrupted for the second consecutive day. Hundreds of trucks and vehicles were stranded on both sides of the bridge.

River Ib that passes through Jharsuguda district is in spate submerging Telenpali, Goinghora, Etabhata and Remja villages. Scores of affected families were shifted to safer places. Floodwaters entered several houses in Sambalpur’s Naktideul, Bamra and Kuchinda blocks. While Kuchinda received 192 mm rainfall, the adjoining Bamra block got 180 mm on Thursday.

Jharsuguda collector G C Mishra said the administration will restore connectivity on a war-footing. “Steps have been taken to construct a new bridge at the earliest. We are also working on a temporary alternative to restore traffic on the NH,” Mishra told TOI on Friday.

Hirakud Dam authorities on Friday decided to keep five gates open compared to 16 on Thursday as inflow declined. Official sources said the reservoir was receiving 287,842 cusecs of water per second on Thursday and the water-level had increased to 614.19 ft on Friday. “We are constantly monitoring the situation and will increase and decrease the number of opened gates keeping in mind the inflow,” an official of the dam authority said.

Among the southern districts, Kandhmal was the worst-hit. Barkhama, Sudra, Rebingia, Salaguda, Landagaon and Khaman Khola panchayats in Baliguda sub-division were cut off when an approach road in the under construction culvert over Apran nullah was washed away near Barkhama. Communication between Tumudibandh and Belaghara was disrupted as the nullah water overflowed, sources said.

Road communication between Berhampur and Phulbani was disrupted for a few hours after an under construction road was damaged near Shankarakhola. Government authorities repaired the damage and restored connectivity by the afternoon, sources added. The district authorities said the administration is trying its best to restore connectivity everywhere. “The PWD is already undertaking the repair the roads. Tehsildars have been asked to keep a watch on the emerging situation as rain continues in several places,” Kandhamal collector B S Punia said.

Coming to the low pressure, the forecast is that strong surface wind speed reaching 40 to 45 kmph is likely to prevail along and off the Odisha coast. Fishermen have also been advised to venture out into the sea.

“This low pressure will give some rain. But there is little chance of this system intensifying further,” said Sarat Chandra Sahu, director of the meteorological centre here. He also forecast that this system would not give much rain.

Special Relief Commissioner P K Mohapatra said there is no flood in the Mahanadi river system so far. However, he said the government was keeping a watch over the situation as the IMD forecast more rain under the impact of the low pressure.

The overall average rainfall in the state, meanwhile, stood at 5% deficit with actual rainfall of 726.5 mm against normal rainfall of 762 mm. Eight out of 30 districts have been reeling under deficient rainfall but the percentage of deficiency is decreasing. Balasore district experienced the highest deficient rainfall of 38% followed by Bhadrak, Gajapati and Jagatsinghpur districts with 30% rainfall deficiency. The other rainfall deficit districts are Kendrapada (27), Deogarh (24), Jajjpur (23) and Mayurbhanj (22). Director of agriculture and food production R S Gopalan said the department is ready to face any kind of situation but are hopeful of improvement in the situation.

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