Odisha government criticised for tardy post Fani works

Residents queue to collect relief materials in Puri. (AFP Photo)

The Naveen Patnaik administration in Odisha has found itself at the receiving end of criticism from all quarters including the suffering public for slow and tardy relief and reconstruction works in districts which were hit by cyclone Fani on May 3.

Individuals have already moved to the court on the issue and at least two public interest litigations (PILs) have already been filed in the state high court – one appealing for a court direction to the state administration to speed up restoration and relief works in the cyclone-affected areas and another to declare Fani a national calamity.

Many affected districts are yet to get power even after nine days of the disaster. In Puri district including the temple town of Puri, the authorities have not been able to provide electricity even to a single household. In capital city Bhubaneswar, the second worst cyclone hit urban centre after Puri, power is yet to be restored in many areas though the administration claimed that majority of the consumers in the city had already been provided with electricity.

In fact, the power issue is already threatening to trigger law and order problem in many areas. There were road blockades by suffering citizens at least in five places in the capital city on Saturday evening. Armed police protection had to be provided to more than half of the 61 power sub-stations in Bhubaneswar after enraged locals threatened to set the sub-stations on fire and thrash the employees of CESU(Central Electricity Supply Utility), the government run agency that provides power to several coastal districts including Puri as well as the capital city Bhubaneswar.

There was also a report of villagers thrashing a revenue official in another cyclone hit coastal district of Jajpur due to a shortage of relief materials.

“The state government has completely failed in handling the post-Fani situation”, the vice-president of the BJP’s state unit Samir Mohanty said. The party has already submitted a memorandum to the state’s special relief commissioner(SRC) alleging irregularities in distribution of relief.

Officials involved in relief, restoration and rehabilitation works have rejected the allegation that the post-Fani works had been slow and tardy. “The administration is working on a war footing. There is bound to be loopholes here and there which will be corrected soon”, said a senior official.

Meanwhile, the death toll in the calamity has gone up to 43 with two affected districts – Khurda and Cuttack – reporting one more death each. The toll was 41 earlier.

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