BHUBANESWAR: With flood water creating havoc in major parts of Odisha, breaches in several river embankments across the state exposed the chinks in the armour of Water Resources department.
The department, which has been boasting that it is fully prepared for any eventuality, on Saturday admitted at least 26 breaches in river embankments and the maximum has been reported from Jajpur district, its Bari block being the worst affected.
Prior to the onset of monsoon, the department had identified 49 vulnerable points in river embankments in 21 districts.
A joint inspection of weak embankments was conducted by officials of Water Resources department, district administrations and necessary measures were taken to reinforce the embankments as per the guidelines.
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Apprising the strategy prepared for reinforcement of weak embankments and drainage of flood and rain water from low-lying areas to the state-level natural calamity committee meeting chaired by Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik in June, the department had said flood fighting materials have been kept at strategic locations to handle the situation.
“We are yet to get detailed reports on damage to river embankments as many parts of the State are under flood water and road communications have been snapped making it impossible for spot visit,” said a senior officer of the department. What is surprising is how a moderate flood like this year caused so much damage to river embankments on which the state government has already spent around Rs 3,500 crore for raising and strengthening.
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According to a report of the department, which has been getting maximum budgetary support from the Government year after year, it has received financial support of Rs 3,485.85 crore from Rural Infrastructure Development Fund (RIDF) in the last eight years for 447 flood protection works.
This includes 23 road projects on some flood embankments.
The government had allocated Rs 733 crore including Rs 460 crore RIDF loan in 2019-20 for flood preparedness works.
The department is claimed to have constructed 7,470.18 km of flood protective embankments that included 1,717.29 km capital embankments, 2,493.11 km agricultural embankments, 1,635.94 test relief embankments and 1,635.94 saline embankments.