Odisha loses Rs 2,300 crore worth of crops to Phailin

Eight million people affected, 17 lives lost; Ganjam bears brunt of cyclone

Jayajit Dash Bhubaneswar
Cyclone Phailin, which made a landfall on the southern coast of Odisha at around 8:30 pm on Saturday at a windspeed of 200 km an hour, affected a cultivable area of 0.5 million hectares and damaged 80 per cent of the power transmission infrastructure in the coastal areas. The cyclonic storm hit 99 blocks, 1,895 gram panchayats, 14,514 villages, 39 urban local bodies and 123 wards across the state.

“Of the total cultivable area of 3.6 million hectares, 0.5 million has been affected. The crop loss has been estimated at Rs 2,300 crore,” said Special Relief Commissioner Pradipta K Mohapatra.

The loss to the power infrastructure is about Rs 1,000 crore, said another highly-placed official. Of which, the loss in Ganjam district alone is estimated at Rs 500-600 crore, he added.

While the official death toll in the state is 17, there were reports that 23 people have died. Ten in Ganjam district. All deaths were either due to falling of uprooted trees or collapsing of walls.

According to Mohapatra, the government was able to keep the casualty figure to a minimum thanks to its timely evacuation of people from vulnerable, low-lying habitations. As many as 873,646 people were moved out ahead of the cyclone strike.

While Phailin impacted eight million people in 13 districts — Puri, Ganjam, Nayagarh, Kendrapara, Jagatsinghpur, Jajpur, Gajapati, Balasore, Bhadrak, Khurda, Cuttack, Keonjhar and Balasore — Ganjam suffered the most.

According to official sources, in Ganjam district where 180,000 people had been evacuated ahead of the storm’s arrival, 234,000 houses were damaged.

Flight and train operations resumed. Services from Bhubaneswar airport resumed on Sunday afternoon and the East Coast Railway, which had cancelled all trains in the Howrah-Visakhapatnam route, resumed operation in the Puri-Howrah section. The power situation in Ganjam district will take at least a week to be restored, as 80 per cent of the 33/11 kV lines were damaged. In some regions, the infrastructure might have to be built from the scratch.

According to the highly-placed official quoted above, given the scale of damage to the power infrastructure in Ganjam, the 80 teams (with a total strength of 1,200) already deployed for restoration work might not be enough.

“We now need at least 250 teams for Ganjam district alone with a total manpower of 4,000. Since the restoration work is to be done on a huge scale, the government has urged the officials of PowerGrid Corporation of India and NTPC to expedite the work by mobilising their contractors and sub-contractors. We had requested the Government of India to allow us to use residual material of the Rajeev Gandhi Grameen Vidyutikaran Yojana for restoration work and  have got consent,” he added.

The energy department is working to ensure restoration of electricity for the entire state, except Ganjam, by Monday evening. Normalcy in power supply in important towns such as Bhubaneswar, Cuttack, Puri, Khurda, Bhadrak and Balasore was to be restored by Sunday evening.

The average daily power use by Central Electricity Supply Company of Odisha Ltd, a distribution utility operating in the eastern coastal districts, has plunged to 110 Mw against the normal 300 Mw. Most industries have gone for a shutdown either for the Puja festivities or due to the cyclone scare, causing a drastic fall in demand, said an official source.

Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik has announced relief assistance. The families in “very severely affected” villages will be provided food assistance — 50 kg of rice and Rs 400 in cash for each family — for 14 days.

The families in “severely affected” villages will get food assistance for seven days. They will receive 25 kg of rice and a cash component of Rs 200 per family for dal. Besides, all fishermen who were barred from venturing into the sea will be provided 10 kg of rice.

Farmers who have lost their standing crops will be provided due assistance after assessment by the district authorities.

First Published: Oct 14 2013 | 12:02 PM IST

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