Odisha may encounter a low level of flood in the Mahanadi river basin following heavy downpour in the upper catchment areas and high water inflow in the Hirakud reservoir, officials said on Saturday.
The situation may get exacerbated as another low-pressure area has formed over the northern Bay of Bengal and may intensify into a depression, prompting the Met Office to issue a red alert of torrential rain in 17 districts.
Water Resources engineer-in-chief Bijay Kumar Mishra said four more gates of the Hirakud dam in western Odisha's Sambalpur district were opened. Currently, excess water is flowing from 24 gates into the Mahanadi downstream areas of the state, which was battered by heavy rain over the past few days due to depression.
Mishra said around 6 lakh cusecs of water will reach Mundali in Cuttack district on Sunday morning and 7 lakh cusecs at 8 am on Monday. The water released from Hirakud generally takes 36 hours to reach the area. The Mahanadi is also getting additional water from the Tel tributary.
"After considering today's situation, we think that there can be a small level of flood in the Mahanadi system if more water is needed to be released on the basis of the rain situation in upper catchment areas and Chhattisgarh," he told reporters.
"The Baitarani river crossed the danger level of 17.83 at Akhuapada in Bhadrak and we expect it will reach a maximum of 18.23 m, which will not be that much of a problem," Mishra said.
The Jalaka is also above the danger mark of 5.5 m, while the water level in the other rivers is also rising, but below the danger level, according to the official.
The department has deputed senior officials to several districts, leaves have been cancelled and the coastal division has been directed to be on alert.
Hirakud chief engineer Anand Chandra Sahu said alleged lack of cooperation from Chhatisgarh as the Kalma barrage authorities were not passing information on the discharge of floodwater from their point.
Sahu added that the situation was being managed at Hirakud on the basis of the data from the Central Water Commission.
"We're monitoring the situation round the clock. The inflow is high and we have to open more gates if it increases," he said.
Mishra revealed that the neighbouring state requested Odisha to open more gates.
"We will do it after reviewing the inflow, water level, safety of the Hirakud and the flood situation in lower catchment areas," he said.
On the danger of flood posed by the low-pressure area, Mishra said it could be ascertained after checking the status, reservoir capacity and water flow from the upstream.
The low-pressure area, which formed in the morning, is set to move northwestwards, and become well-marked during the next 12 hours. The system is expected to concentrate into a depression during the subsequent 24 hours, the Bhubaneswar Meteorological Centre said.
Ullunda in Subarnapur district recorded 106 mm of rain over a 24-hour period till 8.30 am, followed by 105 mm at Madanpur Rampur in Kalahandi. Heavy rain lashed Boudh, Ragagada Mayurbhanj, Bolangir and Bargarh. Incessant light rain has been occurring in Bhubaneswar since morning.
The Met issued a red warning of extremely heavy rain in Puri, Jagatsinghpur, Kendrapara, Cuttack, Bhadrak, Jajpur and Dhenkanal districts till Sunday morning.
Extremely heavy downpour is forecasted for in Sambalpur, Jharsuguda, Deogarh, Bargarh, Angul, Boudh, Subarnapur, Bolangir, Nuapada and Kalahandi on Sunday. It may lead to a significant rise in water level of rivers, flash flood, landslides, inundation of low-lying areas and agricultural fields, besides damage to houses and roads.
The weather office warned of heavy to very heavy rain in the rest of the districts till Monday morning.
Fisherfolks have been advised not to venture into the sea off the coast till Monday as squally weather with wind speed of 45-65 kmph is expected over the west-central Bay of Bengal.
(Inputs from PTI)