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Cyclone Fani: 41 dead, Odisha Govt to receive additional manpower from other states

5000 skilled workers paired up alongside 2500 electricians and equipment will join the operation to restore Odisha post-Cyclone Fani.

india Updated: May 09, 2019 12:45 IST
Cyclone Fani,Odisha,BJD
A view of the destruction in the aftermath of cyclone Fani, in Puri, Odisha(Arabinda Mahapatra / Hindustan Times)

Five days after Cyclone Fani battered Odisha, the state government Wednesday hoped that the restoration work in power and telecom sectors would gain momentum from Thursday with more skilled and well-equipped manpower from other states set to join the mammoth operation.

While restoration works were hampered so far due to manpower and equipment crunch, the toll in the cyclone mounted to 41 with officials confirming four more deaths in the Bhubaneswar region.

The highest number of 21 deaths were reported from the worst-hit Puri district, followed by five in Cuttack, four each from Mayurbhanj, Jajpur districts and Bhubaneswar. Kendrapara district reported three deaths, Special relief commissioner (SRC) B P Sethi said.

Over 5,000 skilled manpower along with proper equipment are on their way to Odisha from states like West Bengal and Telangana. Around 2,500 electricians have already reached the state for restoration of power infrastructure in the cyclone-ravaged areas, an official said.

Chief Secretary A P Padhi informed Cabinet Secretary P K Sinha during a video conference that the overall situation in eight of the affected districts have improved, and power and telecom services were gradually picking up in Puri district and Bhubaneswar.

Landline and mobile phone services in Puri have started improving, Padhi said. Water supply in rural and urban areas has also improved substantially with the help of generators, he said.

“With extra manpower set to join the operations, we will be able to fully restore power supply in Bhubaneswar by May 12. We hope 80 per cent of the electricity consumers will get power by May 10,” Information and Public Relations secretary Sanjay Singh told reporters.

Fani left a trail of destruction ripping apart all the major infrastructure in over 11 coastal districts affecting more than 1.5 crore people. Over 5.08 lakh houses have been damaged in the cyclone which had made a landfall in Puri last Friday.

Singh, who has been assigned the task of managing media and logistics in the post cyclone period, said: “We have to rebuild the power infrastructure afresh in many places of Puri district.”

The official said restoring water supply completely was the first priority of the state. “We have engaged diesel generators in places for running water pumps where electricity is not available,” he said, adding that certain blocks like Puri and Nimapara had been very severely hit in the calamity.

Fani has damaged five 400 kv towers, 27 number of 220 kv towers, 21 number of 130 kv towers, four 220 kv grids and as many 132 kv grids in Puri. Similarly, 5,030 kilometres of 33 kv lines, 38,613 km of 11 kv line, 11,077 distribution transformers, and 79,485 km of low-tension lines have been damaged in the calamity, the SRC said in its situation report.

The government has sought cooperation of the consumers saying time is required to fully restore power connection in the cyclone devastated areas. As many as 1.56 lakh electric poles have been uprooted in the extremely severe cyclone.

The state government has launched relief work in Bhubaneswar and Khurda district and issued direction to start the relief distribution in the other affected districts Lack of power supply has also hit petrol pumps, banking and health services.

The situation has been so precarious that people have started leaving the state capital due to lack of essential services. Meanwhile, the Indian Oil Corporation has expressed willingness to contribute Rs 5 crore for the restoration work of the Jagannath Temple in Puri, which has suffered damage due to the cyclone.

With banking operations severely getting affected due to erratic data services, the Reserve Bank of India said 50 per cent of the ATMs and counters of SBI, HDFC and UCO Bank were operating and steps were being taken to restore normalcy soon.

While mobile ATMs will be operated in several areas, soiled, mutilated and defective currency notes will be exchanged in all bank branches, a senior RBI official said.

The IAS Officers Association, Odisha, has resolved that each member will contribute Rs 10,000 to the chief minister’s relief fund towards relief and restoration work in cyclone affected areas.

The BJP and the Congress accused the BJD government of having failed to mitigate the miseries of lakhs of people affected by the disaster.

First Published: May 09, 2019 12:43 IST