Cyclone Fani: Odisha govt asks tourists to leave Puri

Cyclone Fani: Odisha govt asks tourists to leave Puri

Fishermen try to control their boat amidst rough sea waters at Puri beach. PTI photo

The Odisha government on Wednesday asked tourists stationed in Puri to leave the temple town as early as possible in view of the cyclonic storm Fani which was marching toward the state’s coastline. The catastrophic cyclone is expected to kiss land near the popular tourists’ hub on the afternoon of May 3.

The state government has also asked hotels, lodgings and guest houses in the temple town not to take any fresh booking till May 5 virtually imposing a ban on the entry of tourists into the town.

 “All the tourists have been asked to leave Puri by Thursday(May 2) morning. The district collector has been specially instructed to ensure that the hotels, lodgings and guest houses remain empty. The hoteliers who will violate the government order will be punished”, said a senior official in the state home department.

Puri is a favourite tourists’ destination in eastern India where thousands of visitors from across the country and abroad congregate on daily basis. The town has multiple tourists’ attractions including the Jagannath temple and the sea beach.

There are two other popular tourists’ spots just a few kilometres away from Puri – the Sun Temple in Konark and Chilka lake, Asia’s biggest brackish water lagoon. The state government has already imposed a blanket ban on any kind of boating activities, be it for fishing or for tourism, in Chilka till May 5.

Thousands of tourists visit the picturesque lake every day for a boat ride or to visit the small islands located within the 1000 square km in size brackish water lagoon which is also famous for migratory birds and endangered dolphins.

The state government has also imposed a strict ban on “cyclone tourism”. During the past cyclones like Phailin, Hudhud and Titli, many youths, particularly from urban centres within the state like capital city Bhubaneswar, were seen rushing to the sea beaches to see the cyclone touching land from close quarters. That had become a major headache for the administration wanted to ensure zero casualties during calamities.

“Collectors, particularly in districts like Puri, Ganjam, Kendrapara, Jagatsinghpur and Balasore have been issued strict instructions to take strong action against people indulging in ‘cyclone tourism’. We are keeping a close watch on that”, said a home department official.