Thursday, Sep 04, 2003
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By Prafulla Das
A woman and her son rely on this contraption to help them through the flood waters in Jagatsingpur village of Orissa on Wednesday.
The pumpkin and cucumber creepers in his six acre land were getting ready for harvest when the Chitrotpala river started swelling. Mr. Nayak was dreaming of his profits, the river breached its banks sinking all his plans. As their house collapsed under the floodwaters , all that Mr. Nayak and his wife could do was to save a few tender pumpkins.
"'I cried when I saw the other pumpkins bobbing in the water,'' recounted Mr. Nayak as he sold the pumpkins at a throwaway price at the Malahat canal embankment on Wednesday.
Mr. Nayak, who earned about Rs. 33,000 last year by cultivating pumpkin on two acres of land, had cultivated the crop in six acres this year and was hoping for a good harvest and better income. But with a son who is studying medicine in Delhi and four other sons idling at home, the floods have dealt a body blow to him.
Like many other villages in Uttarkul gram panchayat in Kishore Nagar block of Cuttack district, Mr. Nayak's village remains cut off from the mainland. With the flood waters not receding, farmers like Mr. Nayak are apprehensive of their future.Mr. Nayak is one of those thousands of farmers in the coastal districts of Orissa whose houses as well as crops have been damaged by the continuing floods.Of the 16 districts that have been affected by the floods, the coastal districts of Cuttack, Puri, Jagatsinghpur, Kendrapara and Jajpur have suffered the most. These are the districts that were badly hit by the supercyclone in 1999 and the unprecedented floods in 2001.
In neighbouring Muguria village, a marooned hamlet, the people are in distress. With the mudhouses having collapsed or washed away, they are taking shelter on the few rooftops in the village. The firewood are all damp and almost all the tubewells in the village remain submerged. The halogen tablets promised by the government are yet to reach the village in required numbers. All that they have got as relief was some flattened rice and halogen tablets.In Bhubaneswar, the Chief Secretary, Pratip Kumar Mohanty, told presspersons this evening that 40,535 houses had been damaged and 3.50 lakh hectares of crop area had been affected by the floods. The death toll in the floods has gone up to 19, including 10 due to drowning.Informing that 1081 villages had been marooned, Mr. Mohanty said that efforts were on to provide relief to all the affected families. He lauded the work being done by the Army, Navy and the personnel of the Disaster Rapid Action Force of the State in the worst-hit pockets. #The authorities said that the flood situation was likely to remain critical for three more days. Around 10 lakh cusecs of water passing at Naraj gauge station near Cuttack making the rivers flow above the danger level downstream. The forecast of less rainfall in the catchment areas of Hirakud reservoir on Mahanadi was the only silver line.
As villages remain marooned and paddy and other crops stay submerged, lakhs of flood victims along with farmers like Mr. Nayak can only wait for the government help to trickle in.
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