Rajendra Prasad Mohapatra

The tragic memory of the most devastating Super Cyclone, which ripped through many parts of Odisha on October 29, 1999, is still fresh in the memory of the people of the State. The most intense recorded tropical cyclone in the last century left a trail of destruction in the State.

 

Around 10,000 human lives were lost in the most devastating disaster which also ravaged the State’s economy. Even after 22 years, the date still gives jitters to many, especially those who survived the tragedy and witnessed the devastation from close quarters.


Wind speed touched up to 260 kph during the cyclone and the speed remained the same for 36 hours. The 200 km-wide Super Cyclone ravaged all the coastal districts in general and Jagatsinghpur, Kendrapara, Cuttack, Khordha and Puri in particular. Erasama block under Jagatsinghpur district was the most ravaged area under the effect of the cyclone.


In some of the villages under Erasama block, the entire family members were washed away. Somehow, the cyclone forced the Odisha government to brace itself up for better disaster preparedness and management. However, though many cyclone shelters were built and pucca houses were provided to the people in the area under different government schemes, many of them are still deprived of those benefits. Many people in Nalabhedi and Dasamatha villages are still living in kutcha houses and whenever a cyclone approaches the coastal area, it gives them jitters.


This was probably the greatest cyclonic disaster ever recorded in the last century and its memory is still fresh in some parts of Kendrapara district in the form of old bent trees, dilapidated wells and half damaged thatched houses.

“I lost my husband and brother-in-law on that ill-fated day and had to go through a long harrowing period. Times have changed since then, but I can’t forget those sorrowful days,” recollected Sajani Nayak, a resident of Daluakani village.


Though many cyclone centres have now been constructed in the coastal area, most of them are lying in dilapidated conditions due to lack of proper maintenance.


Making things worse, many villagers of Chhenu, Koramna and Nuagada in Puri districts are yet to get pucca houses under the government schemes even 22 years after the Super Cyclone hit the State.


“Whenever news circulates in the media about a possible cyclone in the coastal area, we spend sleepless nights inside our thatched houses. We have been requesting the local administration to provide us pucca houses under the government housing schemes, but it has only fallen on their deaf ears,” rued Buddheswar Kandi, a villager of Daluakani.
 

(Edited by Pradeep Singh)

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