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Flood-hit protest lack of relief

Prafulla Das

Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik forced to return to Kendrapara

— Photo: Ashoke Chakrabarty

AT NATURE'S MERCY: Flood victims take shelter on the national highway in Gop village in Orissa.

KENDRAPARA: As relief had not reached lakhs of people of Kendrapara district in coastal Orissa three days after the floods, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Sunday had to face the wrath of the affected people, taking shelter on the Daitari-Paradip national highway.

Mr. Patnaik, who was on his way to Gop village where the Daitari-Paradip express highway had been breached, had to return to Kendrapara following angry protests from the people.

Revenue Minister Manmohan Samal faced a similar situation on Saturday. Kendrapara district collector Jyoti Prakash Das was shifted and Additional Transport Commissioner Kashinath Sahu was posted in his place.Till Sunday afternoon, the authorities had not provided food to the hundreds of people who had taken shelter on the highway. They reached the highway on Friday after their villages were inundated following a breach on the left embankment of the river Luna.

There was only one Government jeep distributing medicine. "We have been waiting for relief since Friday afternoon when we came here after our house was washed away. We have not got anything except some flattened rice and a packet of biscuits given by a voluntary organisation on Saturday," said Kusum Das, a resident of Khamarpada. The authorities have not provided polythene sheets to shelter them from the rain.

The situation was worse in the interior villages. People could be seen taking refuge from the flood waters on the roofs of the few pucca houses that dotted the skyline.

Contrary to the claims made by top officials at the State Secretariat that all measures were being taken to provide relief, shortage of boats continued to hamper rescue operations.

Chief Secretary Subas Pani, however, said that villages under two gram panchayats in Marshaghai block of Kendrapara had not received any relief materials till Sunday afternoon.

The Daitari-Paradip highway breached on Friday night at two points between Gop and Chhagharia, stopping transportation of iron ore and other cargo to Paradip port.

Although the Mahanadi had receded, with water flowing below the danger level at Naraj gauge station near Cuttack, the flood situation continued to be grim further downstream.

The current spell of floods in the Mahanadi has affected more than 15 lakh people in 4,000 villages in as many as 12 districts. A total of 366 villages continued to be marooned till Sunday afternoon.

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