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Sunday, Sep 15, 2019

Power supply, mobile connectivity eludes Odisha two days after Cyclone Fani

Puri and parts of Khurda district, which includes capital city Bhubaneswar, have been severely affected by the cyclone that hit the Odisha coast on Friday. Despite road connectivity between Puri and Bhubaneswar being restored, at least 40% roads in the interior parts of Puri are yet to be opened.

india Updated: May 06, 2019 07:01 IST
Debabrata Mohanty
Debabrata Mohanty
Hindustan Times, Puri/Bhubaneswar
Odisha power secretary Hemant Sharma said more than 30 lakh electricity consumers in the state have been affected by the cyclone and efforts are on to restore supply to critical sectors such as the airport, hospitals and railway stations.
Odisha power secretary Hemant Sharma said more than 30 lakh electricity consumers in the state have been affected by the cyclone and efforts are on to restore supply to critical sectors such as the airport, hospitals and railway stations.(REUTERS PHOTO)
         

Two days after Cyclone Fani ripped through the Odisha coast, the Naveen Patnaik government seems to be struggling to restore power supply and mobile connectivity in Puri district and state capital of Bhubaneswar even as riots broke out in several places over demand for food, drinking water and polythene rolls.

With petrol pumps being shut due to the devastation, people are forced to buy petrol at Rs 150-Rs 200 per litre in Puri district.

Puri and parts of Khurda district, which includes capital city Bhubaneswar, have been severely affected by the cyclone that hit the Odisha coast on Friday. Despite road connectivity between Puri and Bhubaneswar being restored, at least 40% roads in the interior parts of Puri are yet to be opened due to fallen trees and electric poles.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is scheduled to visit Odisha tomorrow and conduct an aerial survey of the affected areas. He will later review the relief and restoration work at Puri Raj Bhavan.

Odisha power secretary Hemant Sharma said more than 30 lakh electricity consumers in the state have been affected by the cyclone and efforts are on to restore supply to critical sectors such as the airport, hospitals and railway stations by Sunday night.

Sharma said Cyclone Fani had damaged power infrastructure worth more than Rs 1,200 crore. Electricity to emergency services will be restored by Sunday evening. It will take at least five to seven days to restore normalcy in power supply to Bhubaneswar. However, it may take a bit longer for Puri where the devastation to power structures is maximum,” said Sharma.

Officials said 5030 km of 33 KV lines, 38613 km of 11 KV lines, 11077 distribution

transformers and 79485 km of LT lines have been completely damaged.

Special Relief Commissioner Bishnupada Sethi said several telecom towers have been affected resulting in disruption of cellular and telephone network down in several parts of Odisha. “All telephone and cell phones are down in Puri district. We hope by Monday BSNL will resume its operations in Puri, while other telecom operators may take a few more days,” he said, adding that diesel supplies are being provided to make the cellphone towers functional using DG sets in the absence of regular power supply.

In Puri, minor riots broke out over distribution of relief material as people held roadblocks or indulged in looting. In Bramhagiri block, one of the worst affected areas of Puri, over 2,000 armed people on Saturday looted polythene rolls, flattened rice and jaggery expressing their anger over lack of supply.

“We are waiting for food and water since the last 2 days. The local MLA is yet to show up. What is the point of keeping the relief material in offices when people are suffering,” said Trilochan Maharana of Rebana Nuagaon village of Bramhagiri block. The people beat up the BDO and allegedly looted furniture and computers kept in the block office.

In Satyabadi block of Puri district, people blocked traffic on the Bhubaneswar-Puri national highway demanding polythene rolls to string across their roofs blown away by the storm. At least half a dozen road disruptions took place across Puri town demanding relief material even as chief minister Naveen Patnaik announced a relief package for the affected people.

Patnaik who visited Puri on Sunday announced that affected families in Puri covered under the National Food Security Act will get 50 kg of rice, Rs 2,000 and polythene rolls. In all the affected districts, people will receive one month additional pension and house building assistance of Rs 95,100 for fully-damaged structures, Rs 5,200 for partially-damaged structures and Rs 3,200 for minor damages.

Officials said the state government was yet to make an assessment of the damage to houses though they expected almost all kutcha houses to have been severely damaged.

The cyclone which had a wind speed of 274 km an hour has affected 1.07 crore people in 11 districts. Special Relief Commissioner Bishnupada Sethi said so far 34 people have been reported killed due to the cyclone with Puri accounting for 21 alone.

Sethi denied the possibility of any outbreak of disease adding that 321 mobile medical teams have been deployed. Besides, 5703 open water sources have been disinfected in the affected areas.

Meanwhile, the East Coast Railways said they have reintroduced 85 of the 138 cancelled trains. The main line to Bhubaneswar has commenced operations while Puri will be ready to receive trains in about 4 to 5 days. Flight operations to Bhubaneswar resumed with 41 flights operating on Saturday.

First Published: May 05, 2019 22:33 IST