Rajendra Prasad Mohapatra

Even as the Central Team to assess the Cyclone Jawad damage has hit the ground running on Sunday, the political slugfest takes the centerstage on day one itself in the State. 

After preliminary discussions with the Odisha Special Relief Commissioner (SRC), the six-member Central team led by Joint Secretary (CEPI) in the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) Saurav Ray, today took stock of the situation in Kendrapara, Jagatsinghpur, Puri and Cuttack. 

The team is on a three-day long visit to the State. It is expected that the central team will visit Ganjam and Jajpur tomorrow.

As per reports, storm-hit farmers took the Central team through their damaged and submerged paddy fields and gave details about the loss incurred due to the unseasonal rain.

“Most of the paddy fields are fully or partially submerged. The crops could not be harvested until the fields get completely dried up. Most of the grains have been germinated and we are completely helpless now. It will be difficult for us even to make our ends meet this year. The farmers have no alternative but to commit suicide. The government should extend help to the farmers in such distress hours,” said a farmer from Ersama.

After the field visit, the team will prepare a detailed assessment about the farm loss and is likely to submit its report within a week to the Disaster Management Division of the MHA for quick release of central assistance. The team will also recommend whether the disaster can be considered of a 'severe nature' or not.

“The low-lying areas have suffered extensive damage due to the cyclone. We are currently assessing the situation. Assistance will be provided as per the current norms after consultation with the State government,” said Ray.

When the Central team is assessing the crop loss, the political harvesting has begun on the issue in the State.

The ruling BJD has alleged that the Centre has always neglected Odisha in providing adequate compensation over the damages inflicted due to various natural disasters.

“Odisha is always neglected by the Union government. As per our demand, we never get the adequate compensation,” said BJD senior leader Shashi Bhusan Behera.

Meanwhile, Opposition BJP slammed BJD for the false allegation against the Union government.

“BJD should introspect before blaming others. The Centre always lends its helping hands and provides adequate assistance even before the State’s demand. But the State government has always failed to utilise the amount properly and submit the Utilisation Certificate in time,” said BJP leader Nauri Nayak.

On the other hand, Congress slammed both BJD and BJP for indulging in symbolic fight.

“Both BJD and BJP have an internal understanding. The rift between them is only to show off and draw the attention of people. Instead, they should work together to solve the problems of the farmers who are currently in distress,” said senior Congress leader Tara Prasad Bahinipati.