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Sunday, August 05, 2001

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Many questions


THE floods in Orissa have raised many questions on disaster management and flood control measures.

Experts insist that floods cannot be controlled fully but can be prevented from causing heavy damage. Whether floods can be prevented by building big dams and embankments needs to be debated. Many say that the experience of Andhra Pradesh and Bangladesh can be studied by the Orissa Government.

It is not possible for the common man to analyse whether the Orissa floods were a result of the failure of the authorities in managing the waters of the Mahanadi and the Brahmani, or because of the heavy rains in the catchment areas.

The allegation that the floods in the Mahanadi caused more damage because of the failure of the authorities to regulate the water level at Hirakud was denied summarily by the State Government.

In addition to the heavy rains in Chhatisgarh, the continuous heavy rain over Orissa worsened the flood situation in the Mahanadi and the Brahmani. At one point, the water level in the Hirakud reservoir in the western part of the State rose above 628 feet, as against the danger level of 630 ft.

The water level at the Rengali reservoir on the Brahmani in Angul district even touched the danger mark of 123.50 metres. The authorities had no other option but to let out more water than what flowed into the reservoirs - to save the dams, even if the resulting floods inundated vast areas and caused a large number of breaches in river embankments.

The worst hit were the districts of Cuttack, Puri, Jagatsinghpur, Jajpur and Kendrapara. Many villages remained marooned even 15 days after they were flooded.

PRAFULLA DAS

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