Pro-Active Surveillance by Odisha Administration: Rescue & Relief Begin In Spite of Continuous Downpour & Disrupted Communication

Report by Badal Tah; Rayagada: Despite the water has receded, the flood situation is still grievous due to heavy downpour on Niyamagiri Hills adjacent to Kalyan Singhpur block. Though for a brief period the flood receded in Nagavali and Kalyani rivers, they have swelled again due to continuous rain disrupting communication to the block headquarters of Kalyan Singhpur. Around 10000 people are seriously affected in ten gram panchayats of the block.

As the communication to the highly affected villages of Budaguda, Majhiguda, Jilunda, Palama & K.Singhpur GPs and habitations namely Bada Brahman Sahi, Sana Brahman Sahi, Kampa Sahi, Paika Sahi, Sai Nagar in the block headquarters is disrupted, relief materials are yet to reach by road. Students of residential schools have taken shelter on 1st floors. Around five villages are trapped due to a collapse of a bridge at Bandalpash in Kashipur Block which is adjacent to Kalahandi district.

The railway bridge between Singapur(JK Pur) and Therubali railway station has been washed away due to heavy flow in the river. Many up-down trains like Visakhapatnam-Raipur,Visakhapatnam-Durg, Sambalpur-Koraput passengers and Rourkela-Koraput, Sambalpur-Rayagada, Durg-Jagdalpur, Tirupati-Bilaspur expresses have been cancelled till further order. Routes for Nizamuddin-Visakhapatnam, Dhanbad-Aleppy, Visakhapatnam-Lokmanya Tilak expresses have been diverted. Bhubaneswar-Junagarh Link Express has halted at Rayagada. Sri Umesh Singh, General Manager, East Coast Railways with a high level technical team has reached in Rayagada and started assessing the situation.

The road communication has become disastrous. Though there are four ways to reach Kalyan Singhpur, only one road is partially open, that is Sikarpai-Budaguda road, which is dumped with mud due to flood remnants. Rayagada-Visakhapatnam road is overflowing with river water at Seskhal. Many villages of Rayagada block namely Gururajuguda, Gosein Kantua, Brahman Halua in Bairagi Halua GP, Ganganpeta, Amplevalsa in Kerada GP, Kandha Maligaon river bank in K.Maligaon GP, Turihansa of Jemadeipentha, Jagannathpur of Pitamahal GP and Jagili St, part of Bhakurguda of Katapeta GP are badly affected. The Koranala bridge connecting Bainaguda with Gudari NAC is also broken and many villages of Karlaghati, Khariguda, Madhubana and Pendili are cut off.

The district administration has swung into swift action in combating this sudden unwanted situation and a 24X7 surveillance team is in place under the direct supervision of the District Collector Smt Guha Punam Tapas Kumar. She is assisted by the concerned BDOs, Sub-Collectors and PA-ITDAs with supporting staff. Airdropping of dry food stuff by the Navy helicopter has begun in spite of incessant rain in K.Singhpur. Around seven hundred villagers have been shifted from the affected villages of Rayagada block, kept in nearby schools & provided with cooked food. This correspondent visited two centres namely Hatseskhal and Gururajuguda of Rayagada block and found local RI, JE, PEO and school teachers coordinating the feeding programme. The feeding programme will continue for a week. Collector has declared seven days holidays for all the schools in Kalyan Singhpur and Rayagada blocks. While coming back this correspondent saw the RWSS staff disinfecting the tubewells in the affected villages and schools. The super bureaucrats like Health Director, CDMO, Chief Engineer-RD & General Manager-Eco Railway are camping in the area and assessing the situation for probable steps for rescue and relief. ODRAF and Fire Brigade teams alongwith CRPF have rescued many villagers who were stranded either on a tree or on roof tops surrounded by torrential rivers. Because of this coordinated effort, there is not a single casualty till now. As Dr P K Meherda, Health Secretary and Sri D K Singh, Panchayati Raj Secretary of Govt of Odisha earlier worked as Collectors of Rayagada, monitoring the situation from the state headquarters with ample experience of the district is an additional advantage.

Nevertheless, the relief amount, especially in K.Singhpur block is just pittance according to locals. According to Sri J Dasu Kumar, a local petty businessman of Hataseskhal village, restoring electricity is the need of the hour and so also supply of safe drinking water. “There is every possibility of an epidemic which is a recurring phenomenon in K.Singhpur block, especially gastro-enteritis. As the hospital of K Singhpur is extremely ill equipped, alternative arrangements have to be made though strengthening the human resource and basic necessary infrastructures like a functioning generator, etc of the existing hospital is needed”, said Sri Akshey Pidisika, a local tribal youth leader. The telephone services need also be restored soon.

Sri Rabindra Patakhandal, an agricultural entrepreneur said, ” The rehabilitation of the families devastated by flood is a real challenge. As this is a new phenomenon in this tribal hinterland, officials having experience of combating flood in coastal areas should come to the area to help district administration. The District Disaster Preparedness Plan needs to be revisited soon. To strengthen the two-way communication system, a few Ham Radios can be placed in the sensitive GPs.”