Incessant rain that marooned several villages in Phailin-battered Ganjam district in South Odisha continued to give sleepless nights to officials on Sunday with the Rushikulya river still in spate. At least 50,000 people from 300 gram panchayats in Hinjli, Purushottampur, Aska, and other areas were marooned as air-dropping of food material was undertaken for the second day on Sunday.
“The situation is not grim as the water level in Bahuda and other tributaries of the Rushikulya has come down below the danger level. However, as water in the Rushikulya crossed the danger mark, we are on high alert as we don’t want to take any chances. Still, there is forecast for more rain under the influence of the system that formed in the Bay,” a senior official told The Hindu.
Initial reports put the number of people marooned in the rain-battered Ganjam and its neighbourhood at nearly one lakh. With the National Disaster Relief Force, the Orissa Disaster Rapid Action Force, three helicopters, and several inflatable boats at its command, the district administration said the official machinery was fully geared up to tackle any exigency.
Rain havoc created panic in several villages as it came two weeks after the severe cyclonic storm Phailin hit the Gopalpur coast leaving behind a trail of devastation. Aska, Sorada, Hinjli, Purushottampur, Belagunta, and Rangeilunda blocks were the worst-hit with heavy damage caused to roads, culverts, and bridges. Nearly three lakh hectares of agriculture crop was water-logged. Heavy damage was caused to paddy, the main crop of farmers in the area. “It came as a big blow at a time when people have not recovered from the havoc created by Phailin. The Purushottampur police station and tehsil office are still under water,” DIG of Berhampur Range Amitabh Thakur said. Southco authorities were able to restore partial power supply to 30 per cent of domestic consumers in the city. To prevent outbreak of epidemics, several medical teams were sent to the rain-affected blocks.