Bhubaneswar, Sept 16 (PTI) Anticipating that water released from Hirakud reservoir on Mahanadi river after the heavy rainfall in Odisha will reach near Cuttack by the weekend, the state government Thursday asked district collectors of the river's delta region to be on high alert and deployed 52 teams of NDRF, ODRAF and fire service for rescue and relief operations, a top official aid.

Mahanadi river along with its tributaries and other rivers in the state are in spate due to the heavy rainfall in its lower basin and also in the upper catchment areas in Chhattisgarh, he said.

The heavy rainfall trigerred by deep depression in the Bay of Bengal has claimed the lives of at least nine people in six different districts. While three people died in Kendrapara district, two others perished in Jajpur district and one each in Khurda, Ganjam, Keonjhar and Subarnapur districts in wall collapse and drowning incidents, special relief commissioner (SRC) P K Jena said.

Two other persons are still missing and the district administrations are carrying out investigation to find the details and trace them, he said.

The Hirakud dam authorities have opened at least 28 sluice gates to release excess water downstream and maintain the water level in the reservoir. This may cause a medium flood in the Mahanadi delta region comprising the districts of Cuttack, Kendrapara, Jagatsinghpur and Puri, the SRC said.

Jena said while 4,99,957 cusec of water was entering the Hirakud dam every second at 6 PM, 4,86,892 cusec is being released downstream. The water level in the dam was 628.77 feet at 6 PM against the full reservoir level of 630 feet.

“We have to maintain the water level at about 628 feet as per the Rule Curve for the safety of the dam,” he said.

As per information of the water resources department around eight lakh cusec of water is estimated to flow through Mundali barrage near Cuttack during the peak flood period on Saturday night. “Therefore, Saturday eveing and night are being considered crucial, particularly for Kendrapara and Puri districts through which several tributaries of the Mahanadi pass”, Jena said.

Arrangements are being made to ensure that a medium flood in the Mahanadi river system did not cause much damage. “We have alerted the administrations of the concerned districts,” Jena said.

The SRC said if the embankments are strong the medium flood would remain within the river while crossing the delta region. Officers have therefore been asked to keep close vigil on the weak and vulnerable river embankments.

Water resources department officers have already started patrolling specific and identified locations in view of their vulnerability, Jena said.

As a precautionary measure, 30 teams (each team comprises of 25 personnel) of ODRAF (Odisha Disaster Rapid Action Force), 12 teams of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) and 10 teams of fire service personnel have been deployed in Balasore, Bhadrak, Kendrapara, Cuttack, Jajpur and Puri districts.

This apart, additional NDRF teams are being kept in readiness at the NDRF Battalion at Mundali as backup units. They will be pressed into service if necessary, he said.

The state government has appealed to the people living in riverside villages to help the administration maintain the embankments.

“We are hopeful that the flood will pass through the river and not create any adverse situation,” Jena said.

The state’s flood problem has been compounded following the IMD forecast of creation of another system in the Bay of Bengal around September 17, which may cause heavy rainfall in northen parts of Odisha.

“The cyclonic circulation over east-central Bay of Bengal and adjoining Myanmar coast extending up to 5.8 km above mean sea level and tilting southwestwards with height persists. It is very likely to move west ­northwestwards and reach northwest Bay of Bengal off north Odisha-­West Bengal coasts around 18th September, 2021,” the IMD said in its latest forecast.

The IMD forecast rainfall activities on September 18, 19 and 20, an official said adding that the state may face problem in discharging water into the sea as September 20 will be a full moon day.

Meanwhile, the flood water of Baitarani and Jalaka rivers inundated several areas in Jajpur and Mayurbhanj districts. As per the latest information of the water resource department the two rivers are flowing at 18.41 feet and 6.62 feet with rising trend at Akhuapada and Mathani at 12 noon against danger levels of 17.83 feet and 5.50 feet respectively.

In Jajpur district, three embankments of Brahmani river breached yesterday which led to the people in 67 villages under Bari and Rasulpur blocks to be marooned. Besides, paddy crops and roads were damaged in the areas, an official said.

The Budhabalanga river too is swollen affecting vehicular movement in many areas in Mayurbhanj district. Road communication between Udala and Baripada town has snapped as water is flowing over the Naluha bridge.

There is flood like situation in Madhuban area of Baripada town in which around 200 families have been affected, the official said.