Ten days after cyclone 'Fani' ravaged coastal Odisha, an inter-ministerial Central team Monday began field assessment of the damage done by the storm, even as people continued to struggle for basic needs like food, water and power in the worst-hit Puri and Khurda districts.
Over 5 lakh houses were damaged and 1.65 crore people were affected by the cyclonic storm that left 46 people dead in the state.
Cyclone 'Fani', which hit the state on May 3, passed through the coastal region of Odisha with a wind speed of over 200 kmph.
"The affected people have apprised the team of their problems, about the lack of 'pucca' houses, shelter and other difficulties faced by them," said Puri District Collector Balwant Singh, who accompanied the group visiting his district.
People living in villages, close to the Chilika lake, showed the members from the central team their damaged houses and told them about the lack of water in their habitats.
Union Power and Telecom secretaries attended a review meeting chaired by Odisha Chief Secretary A P Padhi on the ongoing restoration activities.
Bhalla said both the Centre and state government agencies are working to restore power and telecommunication in the affected areas.
"Barring Puri, there has been improvement in telecommunication service in other cyclone hit districts. Now the priority is to restore the telecommunication service in Puri district," Ansu Prakash, additional secretary in the Telecommunication department, said.
Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik in a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi urged the Centre to sanction at least five lakh special houses under the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (PMAY) for the affected people.
"I would request you kindly consider sanctioning five lakh PMAY (G) Special houses initially for the state of Odisha," Patnaik wrote to Modi.
Patnaik reiterated the state's request for waiver of the permanent wait list (PWL) criterion for this particular allocation and also consider a Centre-State fund sharing pattern of 90:10 as a special case.
While seeking early response from the Centre, Patnaik pointed out that the rainy season is fast approaching and the monsoon is likely to reach Odisha around June 10.
Therefore, he said the state government is going ahead with issuing of work orders from June 1, in anticipation of the approval of the proposal by the Centre.
Patnaik also thanked the Centre for its support rendered to the state to effectively manage the calamity and its aftermath.
Petroleum and Natural Gas Minister Dharmendra Pradhan Monday assured the Odisha government that an additional 1,000 kilo-litre of kerosene will be arranged for distribution among the cyclone affected people.
Pradhan said this in response to Patnaik's letter of May 10 regarding release of additional 1,000 kl of kerosene free of cost for supply to cyclone affected people.
Admitting that the worst-hit Puri continued to remain in the dark since May 3, the Odisha government Monday claimed that it has been able to provide power to most of the urban pockets of the 11 affected districts, drinking water to all the districts, including Puri, and there had been improvement in telecommunication service as well as banking and ATM service.
"We have been working on war footing to restore normalcy in Puri also. However, the damage has been massive and therefore requires time to bring back normalcy," Information and Public Relations secretary Sanjay Singh said.
He claimed that there has been improvement in rural and urban water supply, power restoration, telecommunication, banking and others in most of the districts barring Puri.
"As committed, the East Coast Railway has been able to bring back normalcy in train service by May 12. All train service including movement of express, passenger and memu trains has been normalised," said ECoR chief public relations officer J P Mishra.
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