Bhubaneswar: With several rivers in Odisha crossing the danger mark and fear of a high flood in Mahanadi river system, the state government today intensified measures to evacuate people from low-lying areas and transport relief material to worst-hit villages.

23 people have so far died in rain-related incidents in the state where vast areas are marooned and road links snapped.

As the flood scenario remained grim with Mahanadi and Baitarani rivers flowing above the danger mark, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik reviewed the situation and visited the control room at Special Relief Commissioner’s office.

“The flood situation is under control at the moment. Officers are fully prepared to deal with the situation,” he told reporters after the review.

In view of the high flood fear in Mahanadi river system, required arrangements like evacuation of people from low-lying areas and supply of relief materials have been made to deal with the situation, Special Relief Commissioner (SRC) P K Mohapatra said.

With huge volume of water flowing into the swollen Mahanadi due to heavy downpour in upper catchment areas, the water level in Hirakud reservoir has risen up to 628 ft as against the full capacity of 630 feet.

Over 12 lakh cusec water is likely to flow into the river through Munduli around midnight tonight as more sluice gates of Hirakud Dam have been opened to discharge excess water from the reservoir, he said, adding the flood water of Mahanadi is expected to hit the delta region tomorrow.

Principal Secretary, Water Resources department, Suresh Mohapatra said 40 sluice gates of Hirakud Dam have already been opened and more gates are likely to be opened as around 7.5 lakh cusec water was flowing into the reservoir.

He said steps have been taken to prevent breach in river embankments and patrolling intensified for constantly monitoring the vulnerable points.

As districts like Cuttack, Jagatsinghpur, Kendrapara, Puri, Buodh, Khurda and Nayagarh are likely to be affected due to flood in Mahanadi river system, the concerned authorities have been asked to take preparatory measures, he said.

Over 47,000 people have already been evacuated from low-lying areas to safe places and instruction has been given to districts to evacuate villagers in time from areas facing floods, he said.

Free cooked food is being provided to the affected, Mohapatra said.

Mahanadi is flowing above the danger mark at Naraj near Cuttack, while water level in river Baitarani was also above the danger level at Anandpur in Keonjhar and Akhuapada in Jajpur, Suresh Mohapatra said.

However, the water level in Baitarani is beginning to fall, he said.

On the flood in river Baitarani, the SRC said the situation in Jajpur and Bhadrak districts was grim at present but there would be considerable improvement soon.

The swollen Baitarani has affected around 1,52,721 people in Jajpur district where over 5,500 people have been evacuated to relief centres from marooned villages, he said.

The death toll due to rain and flood-related incidents during the current monsoon has mounted to 23, Mohapatra said, adding most of the casualties were due to drowning and wall collapse.

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