Cyclone Fani: three weeks later, Odisha still struggling to recover

24 days after Cyclone ‘Fani’ pounded the Puri coast in Odisha on May 3 morning, the state is still struggling to get back on its feet

Cyclone Fani: three weeks later, Odisha still struggling  to recover

Sandeep Sahu

“Had the cyclone come before the elections, politicians and officials would have rushed to us and done everything to help. But since elections were already over in the state by the time it arrived, no one bothers about us any longer,” is the refrain one hears in Odisha.

Discrimination on the basis of party affiliation too is a common complaint by people. “We haven’t got any relief because we did not vote for the ruling party,” says a man in Kapileshwarpur village in Brahmagiri village area bitterly.

Cyclone Fani: three weeks later, Odisha still struggling  to recover

The bustling tourist/pilgrim town of Puri wears a forlorn look. Power was restored to the Lord Jagannath Temple on May 15. But most of the town is still plunged in darkness with the whirring of diesel generators breaking the silence all around.

Power and telecom services have now been restored in Bhubaneswar, the capital city, but they are still erratic. While power goes off every now and then, call drops are more the norm than exception. Road blocks by people demanding power and water was a common sight all over Bhubaneswar, Puri, Khurda, Jagatsinghpur and other places for the first 10 days after the cyclone. Complaints of VIPs getting preferential treatment in the restoration of power flew thick and fast. People in Cuttack, Kendrapara, Jagatsinghpur, Jajpur, Bhadrak and Balasore, the other districts hit by ‘Fani’, are still fighting the after-effects of the cyclone.

Touring through the interiors of the worst-affected Puri district, one finds that even the fallen trees are yet to be cleared at all places. Telephones and mobile phones are still not working in most places while charging mobiles is posing a huge problem to people. It will be a long time before people recover from the blow to their livelihood. Standing crops on thousands of acres lie ruined while over 50 per cent of the coconut, betel leaves and areca plantations, the mainstay of the rural economy, have been damaged extensively.

The cyclone has dealt a debilitating blow to the two lakh fishermen families dependent on Lake Chilika. Most of them have lost their boats and nets. “The cyclone has broken our back,’ says Narottam Jena, a fisherman.

With most sources of water polluted, diarrhoea has spread in most parts of Brahmagiri, Krushnaprasad, Chandanpur and Satyabadi areas.

The exhaustive, door-to-door assessment began only on May 15. People rendered homeless know it will be a long time before they have a roof over their heads again. In Kendrapara, a family had to take shelter in the crammed toilet built under the Swachh Bharat Yojana after their thatched roof was blown away by a strong gale.

Follow us on: Facebook, Twitter, Google News, Instagram 

Join our official telegram channel (@nationalherald) and stay updated with the latest headlines