RED CROSS RESPONSES TO FIRE VICTIMS OF BALIKIARI VILLAGE

It was the mid day of 5th March 2010, when the household women of Balikiari village were engaged in preparation of food for their family members. The breeze was sound and the environment was quiet friendly. All of a sudden a thatched roof caught fire allegedly from sparks flowing in from the nearest bamboo forest and within an hour all assets and belongings of around 73 households were reduced to ashes.

Balikiari stands at a distance of 17 kms west to Narasinghpur Block Headquarters of Cuttack district. There is no power connection, no mobile network and above all no negotiable road to the village.

Under constant threat of wild elephants, the villagers in emergencies go in groups with weapons to reach the essential offices and hospital at the Block headquarters. They are severely hit by collapse of community health service.

Such a disadvantaged village getting gutted by the wild fire, as no help from any corner was absolutely remote, the Indian Red Cross Society, Orissa State Branch (IRCS-OSB) decided to rush to the affected people. Relief Kits, each containing Polythene-01, Plastic Bucket with cover-02, Dekchi with covers -02, Kadai-01, Lantern-01, Saree -02, Dhoti-02, Kitchen set -01 were delivered by Mr Chakradhar Rout, Senior Programme Officer, IRCS-OSB with the support of Mr Rabinarayan Panda and Smt Sarojini Mohanty, Life Members of Red Cross were delivered to all the affected families, the list of which was prepared by Purushottam Pradhan, Sarapancha of Chakamudi G.P and Pranakrushna Pradhan Ward member of the village.

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AT LEAST 8 LAKH PERSONS YET MAROONED: GOVT. ADMITS LAPSES IN PREPAREDNESS

Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

Secretary G.V.V.Sharma of the revenue department that handles the relief operations confessed on September 25 that at least 8 lakh persons in 825 villages are marooned as yet with no road connectivity to reach them. He admitted that boats are the only means to send them the badly needed food and drinking water; but they are almost unavailable.

The state has only 1500 boats tat are absolutely inadequate to serve 45 lakhs of flood-hit people in 6000 villages in as many as 19 districts, Nuapada having entered the list of inundated eighteen.

Though the weather has improved and discharge from Hirakud has remarkably receded, in the Mahanadi delta continuous surge of overflow has hammered out 52 new breaches pushing newer areas into the fold of flood.

It is baffling to note that the state government is groping yet in dark about the breaches.

Notwithstanding Sharma putting the figure at 143, officialdom takes the figure to be 240 whereas sources in the water resources department put the breaches above 1000.

Sharma admitted that no relief has reached so far at least 41 thousand victims of the disaster.

True picture of the devastation is yet to emerge.