Bhubaneswar: Cyclone Fani has left behind a trail of death and destruction on the Odisha coast, worst affected being Puri and Khurda districts, especially the pilgrim town of Puri and the capital city of Bhubaneswar. The latest death toll stands at 38.
With residents of the cyclone-battered Bhubaneswar busy picking up the pieces, Monday’s visit of the Prime Minister to the city and his aerial survey of the affected areas went almost unnoticed. Modi, who appreciated the efforts of Naveen Patnaik government in organising relief and rehabilitation, announced additional financial assistance of Rs 1,000 crore in addition to the Rs 380 crore he had promised earlier.
Patnaik, on his part has used the opportunity to reiterate his government’s demand for special category status in view of repeated natural calamities taking a toll on its economy. The state had been battered by cyclones Phailin, Hudhud and Titli in 2013, 2014 and 2018 respectively.
The state has demanded from the Centre a long-term package of Rs 17,000 crore to set up disaster resilient energy and housing infrastructure.
The city of Bhubaneswar, one of the greenest capitals in the country, has lost most of its tree cover with massive trees uprooted by the gale still littering roads and streets. Major parks like Biju Patnaik park have suffered heavy damage to their green cover.
Almost the entire power and communication infrastructure of the city has been destroyed, with uprooted electricity and telephone poles and smashed wires visible all around. It may take more than a week for power to be restored in the city and getting the internet back online may take even longer.
City residents are facing a cash crunch with bank and ATM facilities almost paralysed. Those who could afford to move out, have left for other places to escape the privations of Bhubaneswar life where a major water crisis has emerged with people unable to draw water even from boring wells following the power failure. People living in apartments like this correspondent have been suffering the worst with generator sets being the only means of supplying water to overhead tanks. Generator set sellers are making capital out of human misery, charging people up to Rs 1500 per hour.
Generator sets normally costing Rs 15,000 are selling for double the price. Even candle prices have gone through the roof with one big size candle costing Rs 25.
Unable to cook at home, many people are eating outside with wayside eateries and restaurants also making a killing.
Almost all mobile networks have been hit. People are crowding flyovers , especially in the city outskirts, to talk over mobile phones as connectivity at these spots is better.
The pilgrim town of Puri has suffered extensive damage with roofs of thatched houses blown away. Almost all the houses have lost their satellite TV antennas.
The 12th century Jagannath temple wears a deserted look with hardly any visitors. Several trees have fallen inside the temple complex where the scaffoldings put up around it for repairs have suffered extensive damage.
The famous beach in the town wears a deserted look with tourists having been asked to leave even before the gale struck as a precautionary measure.
Almost all tourist spots in and around Puri and Bhubaneswar have sustained damaged with no tourists visiting them now. The famous Nandan Kanan park has also been closed for tourists till May 13.