Odisha CM demands special status for state, asks for funds to build resilient infra

The death toll due to extremely severe cyclonic storm Fani rose to 35, as per reports on May 6. Photo for representative purpose only.

Through a tweet on April 6, Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik reinforced his demand for special category status to Odisha, in view of its vulnerability to frequent calamities of extreme nature, even as the death toll due to cyclone Fani rose to 35.

The CM said the state needs Rs 10,000 crore to build energy infrastructure which is resilient to extreme weather and Rs 7,000 crore for disaster proof houses and telecom network which can withstand such weather ravages.

Patnaik also donated his year’s salary to the Chief Minister’s Relief Fund.

PM’s visit

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Earlier in the day, Prime Minister Narendra Modi conducted an aerial survey of Puri, the worst hit district, and announced a central assistance of Rs 1,000 crore.

A Home Ministry statement said the amount would be in addition to the ₹341 crore that had been provided to the Odisha’s State Disaster Response Force in advance.

Modi praised Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik for handling the situation well. “Naveen babu’s planning was excellent,” he told reporters.

As per reports till May 6, Fani death toll mounted to 35 in Odisha, days after the extremely severe cyclonic storm hit Odisha, causing widespread destruction.

Nagging issues

The Odisha government has mounted massive restoration work across 10,000 villages and 52 urban areas ravaged by the storm, affecting nearly one crore people.

The situation, however remains critical in the districts of Puri, Khurda and Cuttack, which are the worst hit. With no electricity for the past four days, residents were seen struggling with water shortage. While black marketing of petrol, diesel (to run generators) and essential supplies is being reported from several localities of these districts, in the absence of electricity to refill their water tanks or charge mobile phones and inverters, residents are forced to hire power generators at exorbitant rates of up to Rs 2,000 per hour. Even though the government is providing water through tankers in several localities, residents say only those who can fight the massive crowd are able to avail it, while the others go empty handed. With cash running out, ATMs also witnessed long queues.

On May 6, several residents in Bhubaneswar took to the streets to stage a sit-in demanding water supply.

According to a recent PTI report, Energy Secretary Hemant Sharma, has said that at least 10,000 manpower are required for quick restoration, against the present strength of 1,000 men, which the government has at its disposal. He said as many as 30 lakh power consumers have been hit by the cyclone.

Aid from other states

Various state governments have offered assistance to the Odisha government to expedite relief and restoration work in the state. On May 5, while Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh announced an assistance of Rs 10 crore each, help came in from states like Gujarat, Chhattisgarh and Maharashtra later in the day.

While Gujarat government has offered an assistance of Rs 5 crore to Odisha for restoration work, the Chhattisgarh government has announced a financial aid of Rs 11 crore to the state. The Maharashtra government has offered a help of Rs 10 crore.

Fani barrelled through Odisha on May 3, unleashing heavy rain and winds of up to 175 kmph, killing people, blowing away thatched houses and swamping towns and villages.

(With inputs from agencies)

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