Nimapara: The Puri district administration and the Electricity department are yet to restore power supply in most of the villages of Nimapara block even though 44 days have elapsed since the landfall of cyclonic storm Fani on Odisha coast.
More than a hundred villages of Nimapara block including Bamnal, Salang, Uchhupur, Balanga, Kotakosang, Nuasantha, Shainsasashan, Baharena, Tampalo, Haripur, Gadapadanpur, Renchsasan, Kalapanchana, Alanda, Chashagada, Badamachhapur, Dhaleswar, Dhanua, Chhanijang, Antuar and Badasirula plunge into darkness soon after sunset.
Around one lakh villagers have been living a miserable life in the absence of electricity. The prevailing humid climate adds to the woes of the villagers, sources said.
Cyclonic storm Fani has ravaged 32 gram panchayats of Nimapara block and all the wards of Nimapara notified area council (NAC). More than 2 lakh people of 52,000 families have been affected by the summer storm.
It is learnt that around 25,000 utility poles and more than 1,000 electricity sub-stations in Nimapara electricity division have been damaged by the May 3 storm. Moreover, at least 15 high voltage electricity transmission towers have been damaged by the storm in Nimapara.
Though the district administration and the Electricity department have restored power supply in Puri city and some other areas of the district, they are yet to do the same in villages of Nimapara block, sources said. Protesting delay in the restoration of electricity supply, the residents of some villages have staged road blockades several times in recent past.
The angry villagers alleged that local MLA and School and Mass Education Minister Samir Ranjan Dash does not care for the cyclone-hit victims.
“We have been living a miserable life since May 3. No government official has any care for us. We do not know when they would restore power supply to our village. The hot and humid climate is adding to our problems. Our MLA has turned a blind eye to the issue,” said Jhililata Das and Surendra Das of Shagada village.
Some villagers also claimed that their children have been facing problems in studying under the light of lanterns. “Our children could not sleep properly in the absence of electricity. They are also facing problems in their studies. There is the possibility of snakebite if one goes out of his home at night. Our MLA should look into the issue immediately,” said Bijay Panda and Pravati Nayak of Manijanga village under Alanda panchayat.
Expressing their frustration over delay in the restoration of power supply, Ajay Kumar Mohanty of Jainabad village and Bhama Dei of Reghalo village urged Nimapara MLA to take up the issue with the higher authorities of Electricity department. “We were happy when our MLA was appointed as a minister. We thought that he would look after our interests on priority basis. But, nothing has happened so far,” said Dei and Mohanty.
A few villagers have alleged that some political leaders and government officials are trying hard to allot the electricity restoration work to some selective private contractors. That is why power restoration work has been delayed in Nimapara area. “We have heard that the School and Mass Education Minister is trying to allot the power restoration work to some selective contractors. As a result, the process is getting delayed,” said Pramod Mallick and Rina Parida of Kopinda village.
Meanwhile, some sarpanches and members of panchayat samitis including Baspalata Pradhan, Sheela Sahu, Mamina Bagh and Jharana Swain have urged the Chief Minister, Energy Minister and the Chief Secretary to take immediate steps to restore power supply in Nimapara area within seven days.
BJP leader Pravati Parida, who had unsuccessfully contested the 2019 Assembly polls from Nimapara seat, blamed callousness on the parts of government officials for delay in power supply restoration work. “The Centre has provided financial assistance to state. But, the state government has failed to restore power supply to affected villages,” she said.
Congress leader Dillip Nayak squarely blamed the Nimapara MLA and S&ME minister for people’s plight. “The minister lives in an AC house in state capital. He has no care for the common people of Nimapara who have been struggling to get electricity and other basic facilities,” Nayak alleged.
Electricity department sub-divisional officer D. Jaykumar said they are taking steps to restore power supply in all villages of Nimapara block within a fortnight.