India Floods Leave 1.5 Million Homeless in Orissa

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Fresh floods caused by renewed monsoon rainfall in India’s eastern state of Orissa have displaced more than 1.5 million people from their homes and damaged about 240,072 hectares of farm land.

Rains since the past few days have affected about 4,000 villages in 12 districts in Orissa, Manmohan Samal, revenue minister of the state, said in a phone interview from state capital Bhubaneswar. About 366 villages continued to be marooned and more than 47,000 houses have been damaged, he said.

“The situation remains serious,” Samal said. “The fresh depression in the Bay of Bengal is a cause of concern for us,” the minister said, referring to the possibility of cyclonic winds sweeping into the state from the sea.

The floods in the Mahanadi river system has washed away many roads in the state, Samal said. The government has been rescuing marooned people by boats and providing food and cattle feed to the affected areas. Halogen tablets to make water safe for drinking have been distributed and medical relief centers have been opened, the minister said.

Floods in the last three months have left 70 people dead in the state and affected about 5 million people, Samal said.

India’s four-month monsoon, which accounts for four-fifths of the country’s annual rainfall and runs from June to September, arrived in the southern state of Kerala on May 26, six days ahead of schedule, according to the Indian Meteorological Department. Rainfall this year may be 8 percent below normal, or 92 percent of the average between 1941 and 1990, the weather office has said.

The rains have caused floods in the states of Karnataka, Maharashtra, Gujarat and Rajasthan this year.

In the northern state of Jammu and Kashmir, where Muslim rebels have staged a 17-year insurgency, about 160 villages were flooded, the Press Trust of India said. The water level of many rivers started receding after rains stopped in the state, where floods have left eight people dead, the news agency reported.

The Kashmir valley remained cut off from the rest of the country for the fourth consecutive day today as the connecting national highway was closed after landslips, the Press Trust reported.

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