4 years on: Phailin-hit still lick their wounds

Chhatrapur: Even as natural calamities regularly hit Ganjam district, the devastation caused by severe cyclonic storm Phailin October 12, 2013 is yet to be forgotten by the people here.

Though the timely preparedness of the administration saved many lives, the cyclone was a body blow to the economy of the district with thousands of houses being flattened. The high wind speed had not only uprooted several large trees, but also damaged thousands of hectares of cultivation in Ganjam.

People are yet to come to terms with the chilling reminder even as the government made an effort to handle the situation. After the cyclone, the state government replaced kutcha houses with pucca ones while many have received Phailin compensation. Farmers have also got crop loss packages.

However, according to a report there are still several areas that remain unaddressed. Many farmers are said to be left out of the list of cyclone victims who received crop loss compensation while several have not been included in Orissa Disaster Recovery Project (ODRP) launched by the Orissa State Disaster Management Authority (OSDMA).

The left-out people have moved the High Court in the matter. It was learnt that several families still live under polythene sheets in the district. One such locality is NAC Harijan Colony at the district headquarters town here. The families of G Uday, G Siring, G Santosh, D Laxmi, Trinath Nayak, D Gita and D Prashant reside in this colony.

Similarly, four families of Podapadar village have made polythene sheds on a cremation ground their homes. Some families of Barang village in Badamadhapur panchayat under Chhatrapur block also live in shanties.

Many kutcha houses were flattened in the coastal region of the district while many have been kept out of ODRP, it was alleged. They moved the High Court in this regard and on being directed by the court, collector Premchandra Choudhury heard the petitions and included some families in the project.

The state government received accolades from the Centre and international agencies like the United Nations and the World Bank for evacuating people before time and rehabilitating them.

However, construction of more than 1,000 ODRP houses has not been completed yet. More than 16,000 families of Chhatrapur, Ganjam, Chikiti, Rangeilunda and Khallikote blocks were included under ODRP.

It may be recalled that about 37 lakh people of Ganjam were affected directly or indirectly by the disaster which damaged 2.38 lakh houses including 71,200 kutcha ones. Cultivation on nearly 4 lakh hectares was affected while over 5,000 farm animals died after the eye of the storm passed the district.

BDO Banshidhar Khosla promised to include such families under the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana. PNN

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