Cyclone Titli has left behind a trail of death and destruction to that extent that Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik was forced to rush chief secretary Aditya Prasad Padhi to cyclone-ravaged Gajapati district to review the situation.
Cyclone Titli has left behind a trail of death and destruction in Odisha with Gajpati and Ganjam districts bearing the brunt of its onslaught. According to some accounts the death toll would be around 50 with bodies in Gajpati still being traced. The storm has also caused massive damage to crops which were submerged in water following rains triggered by Titli.
Facing flak from the opposition chief minister, Naveen Patnaik was forced to rush chief secretary Aditya Prasad Padhi to cyclone-ravaged Gajapati district to review the situation there. Padhi said the toll was 18. Naveen cancelled his birthday celebration in view of death and destruction caused by Titli. “I should not celebrate in view of the cyclone”, he told reporters.
The chief minister announced that Rs 1000 in cash, 50 kg rice and two and half litre kerosene oil would be provided to all affected families in Gajapati district. Besides, another Rs 2000 would be deposited in their bank accounts, he said.
Meanwhile, the opposition BJP and Congress accused the government of suppressing the death toll figure. BJP leader Bhrugu Buxipatra, who visited the affected districts, claimed that 40 persons had died in Gajapati and another five in neighbouring Ganjam district.
State Congress Chief Niranjan Patnaik, “While there have been 45 casualties in state due to the cyclone, the government has cheated people by claiming zero casualty”.
However, BJD spokes person Sasmit Patra said, “It’s unfortunate that the opposition is criticizing the government during the human tragedy. The government, however, is not bothered by the criticism and is busy in the relief and restoration work”.
The chief minister said the situation in affected areas was returning to normalcy very fast. Polythene sheets were being provided who had been rendered homeless. The distribution of polythene sheets would start by tomorrow.
Chief Secretary Padhi said, “Power supply is being restored in Parlakhemundi and Kashinagar towns in Gajapati district by today evening. Instructions have been issued to restore power supply in other block headquarters by tomorrow.”
As per the preliminary assessment, more than 57.08 lakh population was affected by the cyclone and subsequent floods in 7402 villages under 114 blocks of 16 districts of the state.
Paddy crop in 1.48 lakh hectare and non-paddy crops in 65,000 hectares have been destroyed, said the tentative estimate. Besides, 20113 houses had been damaged in Gajapti, Ganjam, Kandhmal, Prui, Keonjhar, Cuttack, Dhenkanal, Balasore, Angul, Nayagarh, Mayurbhanj districts, official sources said.
“The administrations of the affected districts and departments concerned have been asked to complete damage assessment within a week following which the report will be sent to the Centre seeking financial assistance for taking up relief and restoration works”, said the chief minister.
Union minister, Dharmendra Pradhan expressed his feelings on social media. “The slogan of Chief minister Naveen Patnaik to ensure ‘zero casualty’ remains only on pen and paper. What is more unfortunate is that Naveen was busy in a photo shoot for Hockey Men’s World Cup branding when the people of the state were in distress,” he said.