People watch flood water of river Malaguni in the Hirimula village of Khurda district in Odisha on Tuesday. Image Credit: PTI

Kolkata: Floods in the Indian state of Odisha have killed 45 people, leaving 3.5 million people homeless and struggling to find the basic necessities of life, state officials said on Tuesday.

“Though there has been very little rainfall in the state in the past three days, over 294 villages are still inundated leaving more than three million people homeless in the state. The water has started to recede in many of the rivers, but it is going very slowly, adding to the misery of the people,” special relief commissioner P K Mohapatra told Gulf News over the phone.

The latest floods in Odisha have damaged more than 30,000 houses, killed livestock, and destroyed over 3.2 million hectares of rice paddies, officials say.

The state has stepped up the relief work especially in the worst affected districts of Jaipur, Puri and Kendrapada. Hundreds of boats had been deployed to take dry food rations, plastic sheets and other relief items to the cut-off villages.

All the relief shelters all over the state are full and government is providing cooked meals to 150,000 people at various centres, which are being further distributed.

Though there have been severe criticisms of the government as local news channels broadcast pictures of thousands of people where relief has not reached. Aid agencies working on the ground inform that the government has simply failed to reach the millions affected by the floods.

“Hundreds of villages remain marooned with people struggling to find shelter in high grounds. But till now no rescue mission has been undertaken to bring them back,” said Pranjal Pratihari, a relief worker.

Mohapatra denied those charges, saying the state government is doing its best considering the graveness of the situation.

“There could be few stray incidences, but that does not mean that relief operations have failed. People are also a part of the disaster management process and they should have also prepared themselves for such catastrophe like having additional rations and building houses on higher grounds,” said Mohapatra.

Though rains have stopped, meteorological department has predicted another depression forming in the Bay of Bengal within the next 48 hours, bringing in heavy rains.

“There is possibility of heavy rainfall in all the 25 districts of the state in the next 48 hours, unless the weather changes drastically,” said Sarat Sahu, local director of the meteorological department.