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IANS

On an average, the Odisha government has distributed nearly Rs 1,100 crore each year as relief to the people affected by various natural calamities including cyclones and floods, during the last five years.

According to data from the state revenue and disaster management department, the Odisha government has released funds to the tune of Rs 5,479.02 crore to various districts for distribution of relief to the affected people in between 2017-18 and 2021-22.

The funds were released out of the State Disaster Response Fund (SDRF) and the National Disaster Response Fund (NDRF).

While Rs 848.68 crore were released in the financial year 2017-18, this was increased to Rs 1,227.92 crore in 2018-19 and Rs 2,340.29 crore in 2019-20.

The relief expenditure remained a little low during 2020-21 and 2021-22 at Rs 423.10 crore and Rs 639.03 crore, respectively.

Due to its geographical location and impact of climate change, Odisha has been facing natural calamities like cyclones, floods and drought almost each year.

During the above-mentioned five years, the eastern state has faced several such calamities including cyclonic storms Titli in 2018, Fani in 2019, Amphan in 2020, and Yaas, Gulab and Jawad in 2021.

Besides heavy rainfall, floods and drought also hit some districts of the state during the five years. This year too, many districts of the state are still reeling under floods.

Among all the natural disasters that affected Odisha during these five years, cyclone Fani had caused severe losses hitting many districts including Puri, Khurda, Nayagarh and Cuttack.

During the five years, the state government has released the highest amount of Rs 1439.47 crore to Puri district, which was severely hit by cyclone Fani. Ganjam, another coastal district of Odisha which was affected by cyclone Titli, has received Rs 808.69 crore for relief measures.

Each of the 30 districts has received some funds from the state government towards distribution of relief or compensation to the affected people or families. The state, apart from the natural disasters, is providing ex-gratia to the people who died due to drowning, snake bite, lightning, etc, an official said.

After thorough field verification, the relief or livelihood assistance is being provided to the beneficiaries through DBT, the official said.

If the total loss of public and private property is estimated, the total loss to the state will be much more than the amount spent towards relief measures, he asserted.

With the aim to face the natural calamities, the state government has initiated steps to build disaster resilient infrastructure in the vulnerable areas.

Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik has also been demanding special category status for Odisha for a long time. During the last Governing Council meeting of Niti Aayog held earlier this month, Patnaik had said that Odisha is impacted almost every year by natural disasters.

As it is important to have disaster resilient infrastructure to protect the state and its people from the vagaries of nature, the CM had requested the central government to make Odisha a special focus state and allocate funds for disaster proofing.

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