Restoring power supplies and telecommunication links emerged as a bigger challenge in cyclone-hit Odisha on Sunday, even as the severe tropical storm turned out to be much less devastating than feared.
The lack of power supply and telecommunication services affected rescue and relief operation, besides making it more difficult for authorities to assess the overnight damage caused by the cyclone.
As many as seven coastal districts, including Bhubaneswar, are reeling under power cuts since Saturday afternoon, when authorities shut down transmission lines as a precaution before the cyclone hit the coast.
The storm has since weakened, but the strong winds it packed before and after making landfall destroyed several transmission towers and snapped electricity cables across the region.
Electricity in Bhubaneswar, the state’s capital, was expected to be restored by noon, said an official at the Grid Corporation of Orissa.
Telecom services were also hit in a similar fashion. “Our three towers fell down due to cyclone. We were prepared for the disaster and we had enough diesel to run services,” said RK Upadhyay, chairman and managing director of Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL).
Due to high wind speed, direction of antennas in some places has also changed. This also effects quality of services.
“A few sites were shut down for safety reasons. There has been some impact in Behrampur, which we are looking into and we will rectify by this evening by when we hope the storm will subside,” said a spokesperson of Reliance Communications (RCOM).
Berhampur is the main city adjoining Gopalpur, where the Cyclone Phailin hit around 9 pm on Saturday.
Power outages also contributed to disruption in mobile phone services. Many operators had run out of diesel to operate their facilities with generators.
“Vehicular movement is restricted on a number of roads as they have been blocked by trees. State government has promised us extra supply of diesel,” Upadhyay said.