The joint operation by the Centre and Odisha government to help the Cyclone Fani victims in Odisha not only ensured timely and quick relief to the victims but also set a healthy precedent that political differences are meaningless when citizens are in trouble. However, a similar ‘unity’ was found missing in West Bengal where the Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee did not even respond to the calls by Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi
Dr Samanwaya Nanda from Bhubaneswar
The extremely severe cyclonic storm Fani, that made landfall at Puri on May 3, was one of the ‘rarest of the rare’ summer cyclones—the first to hit Odisha in 43 years. With nearly 200 kmph wind storms and incessant rains bringing down trees, power and communications lines and thatched houses, the cyclone barrelled through the Eastern coast of Odisha in undivided Puri, Gunjam and Cuttack leaving at least 41 people dead reported by Government officials. However, the death toll may increase further.
RSS workers distributing relief to Fani cyclone affected people
Cyclone Fani has left destruction in its wake, not even sparing the trees of the coastal districts in Odisha. More than 10 million trees were uprooted with an equal number of trees damaged in the extremely severe cyclone. The figure may rise as forest officials are yet to receive the complete report on the damage to forest cover in Puri, Khurda and other divisions where no communication has been established so far. Preliminary estimates revealed that Cyclone Fani damaged at least two million trees in Bhubaneswar alone.
Appeal for Help
In the hour of crisis, RSS Sarkaryavah Shri Bhaiyaji Joshi appealed for help to the cyclone affected people. The RSS swayamsevaks and Utkal Bippana Sahayata Samiti (UBBS) volunteers are reaching out to the affected areas, cleaning the roads for transportation to provide relief material to the affected people. RSS Sahsarkaryavah Shri V Bhagaiah also visited the affected areas on May 7 and inspected the relief activities being carried out by the swayamsevaks. In a statement issued from Nagpur on May 6, Shri Bhaiyaji Joshi appealed to the people to send financial help to the Utkal Bipanna Sahayata Samiti (UBSS). The UBBS said all contributions made to it are exempted from tax under 80G of the Income Tax Act.
The help can be deposited in the Axis Bank (MANCHESWAR, BHUBANESWAR branch), in the Account No: 024010100043982, IFSC Code: UTIB0001973, MICR Code: 751211012.
Telecommunication lines snapped in several parts of the state capital Bhubaneswar and several other areas. Lakhs of people are still grappling with water shortage and snapped power supply, even after one week of the storm. With the cyclone severely damaging the power infrastructure, a host of key sectors including banking services came to a halt with long queues outside ATMs and petrol pumps, while patient care in hospitals and works in private and government offices remained paralysed. As many as 1,031 public health facilities were damaged in the cyclone, while 5,244 primary school buildings and 547 secondary school buildings were also badly affected, Special Relief Commission reported.
RSS Sahsarkaryavah Shri V Bhagaiah distributing relief to the cyclone affected people
In Bhubaneswar, the power supply is yet to be restored as the cyclonic storm caused massive devastation to the power infrastructure in Puri and Khurda districts, including Bhubaneswar. In Bhubaneswar alone, more than 40,000 new poles are required while the Energy Department has already procured 20,000 new poles from the Steel Authority of India Limited (SAIL). Meanwhile, power supply was to be restored in emergency services like Capital Hospital, city airport, railway station, water distribution points and transmission stations in the city only. As many as 1.56 lakh electricity poles have been uprooted.
Meanwhile, Odisha CM Naveen Patnaik donated one year’s salary to Chief Minister Relief Fund (CMRF). Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan, who hails from Odisha, also donated a month’s salary to the CMRF in view of the cyclone which has caused unprecedented damage in the State.
RSS swayamsevaks restoring road connectivity immediately after the cyclone
Former Bhubaneswar Regional Meteorological Centre Director Dr Sarat Sahu said Odisha witnessed cyclonic storms during summer in 1893, 1914, 1917, 1982 and 1989. But they did not cause much damage to Odisha as they either fizzled out or changed course towards West Bengal. Formation of the cyclonic storm during summer is very rare as the phenomenon is generally witnessed after the monsoon in September, October and November.
Jagannath Temple Damaged
Parts of the 12th century Sri Jagannath Temple in Puri were damaged as the cyclone ripped through the holy town Puri. Although the main structure remains unaffected but the campus of the Temple has been damaged in the windfall. The impact of the devastation is visible from the Lion’s Gate or ‘Jay-Vijay Dwar’, the main entrance of the temple. The idol of Jay has been broken. The Kalpa Bata, the huge banyan tree revered as a wish-fulfilment tree within the temple premises has also broken not resisting the storm.
PM Modi Restores Hope
Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi conducted an aerial survey of the cyclone-ravaged areas of Odisha and announced additional central assistance of Rs 1,000 crore for relief works in the State. Earlier on April 29, the Centre had released in advance Rs 381 crore for the State for relief operation. Man, machine and money will not be constraint for the reconstruction of Odisha, Prime Minister assured people of the state.
The Prime Minister hailed the Odisha Government for its massive evacuation drive ahead of the cyclone thereby minimising the casualty. He also promised a compensation of Rs 2 lakh for the families of the deceased and Rs 50,000 for those injured in the cyclonic storm.
The PM undertook an aerial survey of worst-affected Pipili, Puri, Konark, Nimapada and Bhubaneswar to assess the loss and destruction caused by Cyclone Fani. Soon after his return from the affected districts, the PM also held a review meeting at Biju Patnaik International Airport with the Governor, CM Patnaik and Chief Secretary and senior officials of the State Government. The PM expressed his full solidarity with the people of Odisha and said the Central Government is fully committed not only for providing immediate relief, but also to ensure the rebuilding of the State. Maintaining that he knows the extent of damage and destruction such a cyclone brings, as he too has been a Chief Minister of a coastal State of Gujarat, Modi appreciated the coordination between the State and Centre to fight the calamity.
“According to CM Naveen Patnaik, more than one crore people in 14,835 villages and 46 towns of 11 districts in the State are affected by the cyclone. In a record-mobilisation, over 12 lakh people including 2,000 pregnant women were evacuated in less than 24 hours to 9,000 shelters with functional kitchens, posted Patnaik on his Facebook page.”
Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis assured that Maharashtra government will contribute Rs 10 crore to Odisha to assist in the relief and rehabilitation operations underway post the cyclonic storm. Gujarat Government also contributed Rs 5 crore to Odisha government to help the state carry out the restoration work in the aftermath of the cyclone. Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel offered to assist in the restoration work in Odisha, adding that the Chhattisgarh state will donate Rs 11 crore to the Odisha government. Yogi Adityanath, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister, donated Rs 10 crore to Odisha to assist and help the state government with all the possible relief and restoration work in the aftermath of cyclone Fani. Tamil Nadu Government also donated Rs 10 crore.
Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama has also come forward with donations to strengthen the efforts for rebuilding Odisha. “As a mark of solidarity with the people of Odisha, I am donating Rs 1,000,000 from the Dalai Lama Trust to the efforts to provide relief and rebuild,” Dalai Lama office said. Meanwhile, to bolster Odisha’s efforts towards rebuilding and restoration, Adani Ports and SEZ and ICICI Bank donated Rs 25 crore and Rs 10 crore each to the CMRF. Bank of India contributed Rs 25 lakh while Equipage Infracore employees donated their day's salary for the cause.
RSS Swayamsevaks Swing into Action
Soon after the Cyclone made landfall, within a couple of hours members of RSS started to restore the road communication in the interior as well in the city. They removed bunches of fallen trees and lines of power and telecom poles for which communication became possible to most of the affected areas within just 2 days.
The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh/Utkal Bipanna Sahayata Samiti (UBSS) volunteers have been distributing cooked food since the cyclone-affected. In Ghodabazar Saraswati Shishu Mandir, Puri, in Dadamukundapur of Pipili and in Brahmagiri the RSS workers are distributing cooked food to around 20,000 people daily. Utkal Bipanna Sahayata Samiti has distributed more than 12,000 polythene to the people who have lost their shelters.