HindustanTimes Tue,23 Dec 2014

Odisha: residents panic, take to prayers and hoarding

Priya Ranjan Sahu and KV Lakshmana, Hindustan Times  Bhubaneswar/ Vishakhapatnam, October 12, 2013
First Published: 00:00 IST(12/10/2013) | Last Updated: 14:46 IST(12/10/2013)

Puri residents are sure their town would be spared the fury of Cyclone Phailin when it is feared to make a landfall on Saturday.

Their belief in divine intervention stems from the 1999 super cyclone that spared the temple town while ravaging its adjoining areas.

Other areas in coastal Odisha, however, have no such hope even as they continuously pray to Durga, the presiding deity of the ongoing Navratra festival.

Even while doing so, they continue to shop and stock essentials.

“In 1999, we starved for days. This time I want to stock food for at least seven days,” said Nirakar Dasmohapatra of Ganjam district, among the most vulnerable.

Dry food, candles, match boxes and soaps went off the shelf in coastal districts of Odisha as well as state capital Bhubaneswar. So did potatoes, tomatoes and onion, even as chief minister Naveen Patnaik warned of “strict action against hoarders”.

Supply department officials seized several bags of potatoes in Nayagarh district while 300 bags of wheat were seized from a place in Ganjam district.

But traders made a killing selling vegetables at exorbitant prices and hoarding essential items. Potato prices shot up to Rs. 50 per kg and chuda (crushed rice) cost doubled to Rs. 60.

Even big malls in Bhubaneswar hiked food stuff prices. “We are ready to pay more, but there is nothing left in the market,” said Sanjay Dash in Bhubaneswar.

In Andhra Pradesh, meanwhile, Bhimunipatnam, a fishing village was not so worried. “We know a storm is coming. Ganga amma tells us everything and she is turbulent,” said 60-year-old Vasapalli Mogganna.

But aren’t they scared?

“We are used to these things. And mother Ganga has never hurt us,” said Sriramulu while mending his fishing net.

Scores of children played on the beach and some more were seen bobbing up and down the rising waves with nary a scare.

more from Phailin, eye of the storm

This time from sarpanch to state minister, all were in Phailin duty: Naveen Patnaik

Choosing not to celebrate his birthday, Naveen Patnaik was holding rehabilitation and relief meetings with senior officials with focus on restoring electricity in the worst-affected Ganjam district. He spoke to Shishir Gupta in an exclusive interview in Bhubhaneshwar.

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