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IMD warns of heavy rain lashing flood-hit Odisha

LiveMint logoLiveMint 17-07-2017 Shaswati Das

New Delhi: The weather department warned of continued heavy rains in Odisha on Monday and authorities pressed the Indian Air Force (IAF) into relief and rescue operations, as floods wreaked havoc across several states.

So far, more than 80 people have been killed across 58 districts in Assam, Arunachal Pradesh and Manipur.

The India Meteorological Department (IMD) said heavy to very heavy rains, coupled with gusty winds, were likely to hit parts of Odisha on Monday and over the next few days because of a low-pressure area over the Bay of Bengal. Water levels in two major rivers rose after heavy rains on Saturday and Sunday, causing flash floods in Rayagada district and prompting the state government to seek help from IAF.

Bhubaneswar meteorological department director Sarat Sahu said a low pressure area had formed over northwest Bay of Bengal off north Odisha which will cause heavy rains.

Chief minister Naveen Patnaik tweeted, “With prompt response, we have been able to rescue most people affected by flash floods in Nagabali and Kalyani rivers in Raygada district.”

Floods have damaged major roads and washed away several bridges, including a railway overbridge. Train services have been disrupted along the Rayagada-Titlagarh section in the eastern coast of Odisha.

A high alert has also been sounded in Bihar for the coming days. “As such, 73.63% of the geographical area of North Bihar is considered to be prone to floods. Out of 38 districts, 28 districts get flooded (of which 15 districts are worst affected) causing huge loss of property, lives, farmlands and infrastructure,” a notice on the Bihar state disaster management authority website said.

Meanwhile, Assam continued to receive heavy rain for the third week, although water levels have receded, a senior official from National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) said.

According to data released by the Assam state disaster management authority, 2,450 villages have been washed away by floods, and more than 1.7 million people across the districts of Lakhimpur, Biswanath, Karimganj, Kokrajhar, among others have been displaced. An expert said the rampant destruction of hills and forest cover around capital Guwahati was one of the major causes of the annual flooding in the state. “One of the major reasons for this kind of flooding is rampant hill-cutting. Guwahati is surrounded by hills which have been cut as a result of which 18 reserve forests and the rivers have been affected. The settlements on the hills make the soil loose,” said Kishalay Bhattacharjee, an expert on the Northeast.

A weather warning has also been sounded for central and western India. Heavy to very heavy rainfall at isolated places is likely over MP and Gujarat in the next few days. Over the last two days, NDRF and IAF have rescued over 400 people in Gujarat, while more than nine people have been killed.

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