Fear of flooding in the Mahanadi river system in Odisha after heavy rains in its upper catchment areas in Chhattisgarh and a rise in the water level of the Hirakud dam, a senior official said.
Special Relief Commissioner (SRC), PK Jena said that five more people died in rain-related incidents in the state on Friday, while nine died, while 4,15,817 people from 10 districts were affected.
Forty of the 64 sluice gates of the Hirakud Dam across the Mahanadi near Sambalpur in Odisha were opened on Friday by authorities to discharge excess water.
Another official said that floods in the Mahanadi river system are likely to affect coastal districts like Puri, Khurda, Cuttack, Jagatsinghpur and Nayagarh.
Many other rivers are submerged in low-lying areas and road connectivity is being lost.
Mr. Jena said that 4,15,817 people were affected in 1,276 villages under 54 blocks of Angul, Balangir, Balasore, Boudh, Cuttack, Jajpur, Dhenkanal, Nuapada, Deogarh and Solapur.
More than 3.83 lakh people have been killed in 552 villages, while 2,757 houses have been damaged, he said, adding that more than 18,534 people have been shifted from the affected areas to 106 shelter centers.
After heavy rainfall in the upper catchment areas of the Mahanadi in the neighboring state of Chhattisgarh, 6.9 lakh cusecs of water is now entering the Hirakud reservoir, while 4.11 lakh cusecs of water is being drained through the 40 sluice gates of the dam, Mr. Jena said .
He said that the water level of Hirakud Dam is 630.58 feet and this is against the full reservoir level of 630 feet.
Mr. Jonah said that excess water is being discharged from the reservoir.
As the inflow at the Hirakud Dam is expected to increase to 8 lakh cusecs soon, officials expect an increase in discharge volume from the reservoir to over 6 lakh cusecs, Mr. Jena said.
As a result, 10 to 10.5 lakh cusecs of water is expected to flow from Munduli near Cuttack on Saturday, where 7.04 lakh cusecs of water is now flowing and this could cause moderate level flooding in the Mahanadi delta region, he said.
When the water flow is above 10 lakh cusecs, it is classified as a moderate to major flood, said Jyotirmaya Rath, chief engineer, Water Resources Department. He said that it would take more than 24 hours for the flow of water from Hirakud Dam to Mundauli, increasing the flow from 10 to 10.5 lakh cusecs there.
With the government fully prepared to deal with the situation, the SRC said that the state has faced huge flows of up to 1.6 million cusecs in the Mahanadi, the largest river in the coastal state in the past. He said that collectors of all the districts of Mahanadi Delta region have been alerted to deal with the situation.
Additional teams of National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), Odisha Disaster Rapid Response Force (ODRAF) and Fire Service are likely to be affected.
Mr. Rath said heavy rains were continuing to continue the upper catchment of the Mahanadi, where about 200 mm of rainfall was recorded till Friday morning.
Rath said that with the release of 6 lakh cusecs of water from the Hirakud dam soon, the water of rivers like Oil, Suktel and Cumin will flow.
Among the latest casualties, the SRC said one death each occurred in Bargarh, Jajpur, Balasore, Nuapada and Bhadrak districts.
Two people died in incidents of wall collapse, while three others drowned in canals or rivers.
The SRC said that Brahmani, Baitarani, Suvarnarekha and Jalka are flowing above the danger level at various places, but the water level of some of these rivers is likely to decrease.
In Bhadrak, Balasore and Jajpur, arrangements have been made to evacuate people to safe places.
The intensity of rain in the state has come down considerably since Thursday.
The formation of a low pressure area over the Bay of Bengal caused massive destruction in Odisha since Monday.
This was the fifth low pressure area over the Bay of Bengal this month, which caused heavy rainfall in the state.