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Cyclone Fani: Odisha's infra takes a hit, but huge human cost avoided

The reconstruction work may take at least six to seven months, while the extent of damage is yet to be assessed

Shine Jacob & Shreya Jai  |  New Delhi 

Cyclone Fani
A car half-submerged in water after a rainfall caused as cyclone Fani makes landfall, in Agartala, Saturday, May 4, 2019. Photo: PTI

Anticipatory preparedness helped in keeping the death toll low in cyclone-hit Odisha, but the state’s infrastructure, which has taken a heavy beating, could take at least six months to be restored.

A senior official told Business Standard that the reconstruction work may take at least six to seven months, while the extent of damage is yet to be assessed. Backed by accurate meteorological predictions, the Odisha government has been successfully managing the movement of people to safety before cyclones hit its shores since the 1999 Paradeep

Fani, that ravaged most parts of Odisha and left 16 people dead, hit West Bengal over Friday and Saturday. According to Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, 1.2 million people were evacuated in 24 hours and almost 7,000 kitchens catering to 9,000 shelters were made functional overnight, helped by around 45,000 volunteers.

Major ports in the region such as Dhamra, Paradip and Gopalpur are expected to have suffered losses and the companies are currently assessing the situation. “Due to Fani, Gopalpur port operations will stand suspended till conditions improve. Port operations will resume after an assessment,” said Jagdish Chandra Rout, a senior official from Shapoorji Pallonji Port Maintenance, which is managing the Gopalpur port.

The Indian Railways said on Saturday that the restoration works are in full swing. A total of 370 trains were cancelled in the past two days, including many passenger trains. The Railways suffered heavy damages to stations, service buildings and staff quarters in the Khurda Road Railway division of East Coast Railway Zone. Based on an initial estimate, 60 per cent of platform shelter sheets and 50 per cent of foot over bridges were blown away in the division. Complete repair of all these facilities, including staff facilities, are expected to resume only by end of October, according to a railway initial assessment report.

Talcher coal field of Mahanadi Coalfields Ltd was the only coal mine affected by the Operations at the mine have been stopped for now. Production from the mines fell to 46.22 lakh tonne on May 3 when the made landfall, from 201.23 lakh tonne on May 2.

MCL executives said they are prepared and ready to respond to any need of the state department. During the last cyclone, Ockchi, in 2017, MCL had assisted the state government in building roads that were damaged.

On the other hand, a senior IOC official said there were no major damages to its Paradip refinery. “The refinery operations are running normal with all units in line, and the products are being evacuated by the Marketing Terminal through pipeline transfer. Coastal evacuation, however, has been halted, as per the plan, due to the cyclone conditions,” said an IOC statement. Another state-run major ONGC has restored operations at its fields near the Andhra coast after it was affected by the category-4 cyclone.

Power infrastructure also did not suffer any major damage. Power Grid Corporation had tripping at only two of its lines in the state. Officials said Power Grid is facilitating alternate power back up arrangements, such as diesel generator sets around the state.

NTPC, which runs three power plants totaling 5060 MW in Odisha, said on May 3 that power supply was cut, but the generation was normal.

First Published: Sun, May 05 2019. 00:50 IST