ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Orissa : Ill-prepared, Again

Several districts, many of them along Orissa’s coast, have been submerged by flash floods following incessant rains. Areas most severely affected have been the once drought-prone districts of Kalahandi and Bolangir. Over 50,000 hectares of paddy field across the state have been submerged. But this latest disaster to hit Orissa is more than just a consequence of nature’s fury. The situation has been made worse by Chhattisgarh, Orissa’s northeastern neighbour, ordering the release of 2.3 lakh cusecs of water into the already swollen Mahanadi. This is more than double the normal amount of water released with no warning issued to the Orissa government. Unfortunately, as the Chhattisgarh chief minister Ajit Jogi pointed out, four dams in the state were already overflowing and there was but little choice available. Worse, with the continuing rains, the Hirakud discharge has had to be increased severely affecting the districts of Jagatsinghpur and Kendrapara along the coast, areas that had suffered severe ecological damage in the 1999 cyclone. Even more seriously, it is likely that the rising water level in the Hirakud dam will threaten the safety of the reservoir itself. A further complication to the draining of the river waters would be the full high tide in the Bay of Bengal on Friday blocking the discharge of water into the sea.

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