Calamity Strikes in Orissa

Orissa witnessed heavy rainfall and the release of water from the Hirakud Dam on the Mahanadi Rivers on 18th September, 2008. It has been called one of the worst floods that have ever occurred in the last 55 years; 9,000 villages have been marooned, affecting nearly 50 lakh people and it has taken the lives of 16 already. Almost 26 dam gates have opened within two days; the released water reaching the coastal areas of Orissa. Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik has declared it as a ‘national disaster’, and Rs. 1500 crores has been released to conduct rehabilitation activities in the affected areas.

Cuttack has been hit most severely by these floods; the flow of water has been recorded at 15.81 lakh cusec, exceeding the previously maximum record as 15.80 lakh cusec in 1982. The embankments of the Mahanadi and its deltas have a capacity to contain approximately 12 lakh cusecs of water, which, if exceeded, is likely to cause further problems. It is indeed sad to see that 9,000 villages have become completely inaccessible. Insufficient provision of infrastructure has retarded the speed of the rehabilitation processes. Most villages have not even received relief and packets of food have only been air-dropped in limited areas. The Army and the Navy have extended their support to rescue people. They have evacuated almost 3, 00,000 people from vulnerable areas and have moved them to safer places to temporarily reside in.

The water level of the Hirakud Dam has come down from 630 feet to 627 feet. The situation in the forthcoming days is unpredictable, with expected rainfall in Bhubaneshwar. Cuttack, Puri, Jagatsinghpur and Kendrapara are likely to be affected in the next few days.

The torrential rain, which occurred almost two weeks back in Orissa, has affected the Balasore District greatly. Despite all measures taken to prevent the occurrence of such a mishap, the extent of the damage was undoubtedly unforeseen. It has not only affected the residents of these areas, but has also affected its economy with staggering communication network and blockages and trapped tourists. All schools have been shut down so as to provide safety to children. As per the State Tourism Director, Rabi Narayan Nanda,” The flood has caused colossal losses to Orissa tourism. At a time when we were looking for heavy inflow of tourists, the flood has just washed away our expectations,” The floods have also affected trade in this region, and the government has borne losses worth crores in terms of revenues and taxes.

At a time like this, it is our duty to extend a helping hand in our own small way. Most schools and NGO’s collect donations and clothing and food material to send to the victims of these natural calamities. We need to be empathetic and passionate towards those who are less fortunate than us. The fury of nature is unpredictable; just because we have not been affected by it today, does not mean that we cannot become its victims tomorrow. Let us help them rebuild their lives once again. Let our actions speak louder than our words.

Aditi Ghosh
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