The death toll in Cyclone Fani-battered Odisha soared to 43 on Saturday as downed power lines and water scarcity remained elusive in most cyclone-ravaged areas for the eighth day in a row despite the government’s efforts to give restoration a push. Urging to press for quick action, anguished residents staged protests in several places.
While the state government claims that it has restored power and drinking water supplies in urban areas of Kendrapara, Jagatsinghpur and Cuttack districts, people launched agitations and blocked roads connecting Paradip and Cuttack, and the national highway linking Bhubaneswar with Puri and blamed authorities for lack of basic amenities.
Exactly a week ago, the ‘extremely severe’ cyclone Fani made its landfall near Puri affecting more than 1.5 crore people in 14 districts and destroying all power infrastructure and telecommunication.
It has been eight days since the cyclone Fani left a trail of destruction in the state and only half of the over 4.5 lakh electricity consumers in Bhubaneswar have managed to get back the power supply at a time when Odisha is reeling under an intense heat wave.
PTI quoted senior officials in the state government which informed that police personnel have been deployed to tackle people attempting to attack officials in almost all electricity offices in the coastal districts.
Police said a large number of people staged a road blockade near Garage Chhak in the state capital demanding a quick restoration of power supply which was severely hit due to the uprooting of 1.56 lakh electric poles in the city alone. Protesters also tried to attack an office of the Central Electricity Supply Utility (CESU), forcing the employees to lock themselves inside.
Information and Public Relations Secretary Sanjay Singh said 100 per cent restoration of power supply in Bhubaneswar is expected to be achieved by Sunday. While all power consumers in Cuttack will be able to get electricity on Saturday, restoration work in the worst-hit Puri town will begin on May 12.
A situation report released Friday by the special relief commissioner’s office said at least 41 people were killed in the calamity and over 160 were injured. Casualty to over 34.56 lakh livestock casualty has also been reported from the 14 cyclone-ravaged districts.
An order issued by the chief minister’s office said all government offices in cyclone-hit districts of Puri, Khurda, Cuttack, Jagatsinghpur and Kendrapara will remain open on Saturday and Sunday despite being holidays. “The aim is to augment the ongoing relief and restoration work,” it said.
Over one million trees that once stood tall and provided green cover to the Odisha capital have been felled by the raging winds of cyclone Fani. Uprooted trees and fallen electricity poles can be seen through the city. Meanwhile, a central team will visit Odisha in a day or two to assess the extend of damage to agricultural and horticultural crops in areas badly affected by recent cyclone Fani.
According to the state government’s preliminary assessment, more than 30 per cent crop has been damaged in Odisha due to the cyclone. More than 1,00,000 hectares of agricultural land was badly affected in 14 districts of the state, the report said. Nearly 5.08 lakh houses were also damaged in Odisha affecting 1.5 crore people. Under Chief Minister’s relief fund package, the houses completely will be reconstructed under housing scheme expeditiously, read a report in the State Emergency Operation Center.
Fuel supplies and transportation
Working round-the-clock to restore normalcy in fuel supplies in cyclone-hit regions of Odisha, state-owned oil marketing companies have operationalised almost all petrol pumps and LPG distribution centres in the three districts impacted by cyclone Fani. While 232 out of 234 petrol pumps in Puri, Khordha and Cuttack districts are functional, all the 162 LPG distribution centres in these districts are operational, an official statement said. “There is enough (fuel) stock to meet the demand in the affected districts,” it said.
The remaining two petrol pumps would be operational by Saturday. “Additional measures have been taken to manage the rush of two-wheelers in Puri city while normalcy has been restored in Nimapada, Brahmagiri and Satyabadi regions,” it said, citing a review taken by Oil Minister Dharmendra Pradhan.