Puri: The Holy city of Puri is all set for a shutdown as cyclone Fani is fast approaching the coast.
A large group of people comprising tourists from outside the state and abroad were in panic earlier in the day due to lack of information on arrangements made by the district administration. Later, many people staying in vulnerable areas were shifted to safer places through the railways and by road.
Early Thursday morning, Puri beach hotels saw an exodus of tourists who were trying to leave the area as soon as possible with their families, but found themselves with practically no information.
But soon the railways, the district administration and the Odisha Tourism department started an aggressive campaign to inform people about the buses, special trains and other assistance available to them.
Tourism department Assistant Director Bijay Jena said, “We have arranged special buses to West Bengal at subsidised rates to ensure the timely evacuation of tourists from Puri.”
The East Coast Railways had also arranged several special trains to move passengers outside the danger zone. Assistant Commercial Manager S N Misha told Orissa POST that special help desks were provided at stations. Mobile teams kept informing people about train movements and were successfully moving thousands of people from the vulnerable areas.
There were also reports of some fishermen communities in Penthakata near Puri beach who were reluctant to leave their village even though they were living in kuccha houses. There were also reports of fights breaking out between administration officials, volunteers and the fishermen. Many local leaders, volunteers, police and others were later roped in to persuade them.
Raj Bhao, a fisherman living in the area said, “Earlier, we were shifted to shelter homes, but we had to struggle to get water and food. If there is danger we would face it from our houses.”
The beach police had barricaded the coast with ropes and had barred people from venturing into the sea. Although many tourists have left, a large number of locals have decided to remain in Puri even May 3.
The disaster response teams, the police and the district administration have assured all possible assistance for evacuation and relief.