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Odisha's capital still a ghost town six days after Fani

A view of the damaged Bhubaneswar railway station. (PTI Photo)

Odisha capital Bhubaneswar still looks like a ghost town even six days after the tropical cyclone Fani ravaged part of coastal pockets of the state.

Though the main streets of the city have been made movable, the broken trees and tree branches and other debris are yet to be cleared from roadsides. The power supply is yet to be restored in major parts of the city. The mobile and internet service is yet to function in most part of the city. In fact, the communication system in the city has completely collapsed.

By Thursday morning the death toll in the calamity that struck the coastal state on May 3 stood at 41. Majority of the deaths have been reported from Puri district where Fani kissed the land. The toll is expected to go up as many seriously injured persons are being treated in different hospitals. However, it may not go as high as the Super Cyclone, another Fani like a cyclone that had destroyed the entire coastal belt twenty years back. The killer cyclone of 1999 had claimed more than ten thousand lives.

Though the intensity of both the Cyclones was the same, the Super Cyclone had wrought havoc in more areas as it had lasted for almost 16 hours. Fani stayed in the state for five to six hours. More than half of the 30 districts in the state had been affected by Super Cyclone. On the other hand, the main destruction caused by Fani has been confined to four districts – Puri, Khurda, Cuttack and Kendrapara. Capital Bhubaneswar is part of Khurda district.

The death toll because of Fani remains low primarily because of Naveen Patnaik administration’s decision to evacuate a large number of people before the cyclone hit the Odisha coast. In fact, the state government has already received praise from the international community for it its evacuation efforts which saved many lives.

But the steps initiated by the Patnaik administration have failed to impress the cyclone survivors. In fact, the common feeling among the affected people is that Fani exposed the capabilities of the administration to handle a crisis.

“It is 20 long years since the state was hit by Super Cyclone. During these long period, the state government has not been able to build a mechanism that can restore power supply in the capital city within 72 hours of a calamity. What can be more unfortunate and painful”, said Pratap Das, a Bhubaneswar resident.

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