Odisha stepped up relief and rehabilitation operations on Tuesday as the twin disasters of cyclone Phailin and the subsequent floods affected more than 12 million people in 17 of the state’s 30 districts.
Children wade through flood waters on temporary rafts in Sunderhata village, about 20 km north of Balasore. (Gurinder Osan/ HT)
At least 28 persons have died in the natural calamity, seven of whom due to the flood.
Chief minister Naveen Patnaik announced relief of Rs. 4 lakh each to the families of those killed and directed the collectors to hand over the money within 48 hours.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh announced Rs. 2 lakh for the family of each person killed and Rs. 50,000 each for those of the injured.
Phailin, now waning, caused heavy rain on Sunday, triggering flood in Balasore and Mayurbhanj in northern Odisha the next day, catching the state government unaware.
As districts such as Bhadrak, Jajpur, Keonjhar, Kendrapada and Puri came under flood because major rivers like the Subarnarekha, Budhabalang, Baitarani and Jalaka swelled, Patnaik surveyed the flood-hit areas by helicopter.
Patnaik, who has decided to skip his birthday celebrations on Wednesday because of the calamity, said: “We are seeing to it that relief materials, food, polythene, medical supplies and kerosene reach the affected people.”
Patnaik deputed three senior ministers to supervise relief operations in cyclone- and flood-affected districts. He directed officials to book those found looting relief material under the National Securities Act (NSA).
According to the status report of the office of the special relief commissioner, the twin calamities have affected 16,487 villages in 148 blocks and 43 urban local bodies, destroying crops in more than 620,000 hectares and damaging 375,000 dwellings.
Revenue and disaster management minister SN Patro described the situation as grim, saying that about 1 million people were evacuated in cyclone-affected areas while another 112,000 from flood-affected areas. Hoping the flood will recede soon, Patra said the operations were on to restore the power infrastructure in cyclone-ravaged Ganjam, which is now facing a severe water crisis. “We need to rebuild the power network,” he said.
The cyclone has devastated the communications system and power supply in all the affected districts, uprooted trees, overturned trucks and flattened kuchha buildings.
The Odisha Disaster Rapid Action Force and National Disaster Response Action Force have restored road communication but it will take at least a week to restore power in Ganjam, the worst-hit by the cyclone.