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FlashBack 2019: A ‘calamitous’ year For Odisha!

Disaster-prone Odisha bore the brunt of 2-cyclones and floods in 2019. While Fani was strongest to hit after 1999 super cyclone, State finished 2nd in farmland damage due to floods. In penultimate month, Bulbul wreaked havoc

Bhubaneswar:  Since Odisha’s worst cyclonic disaster became talking point of the nation, the departing 2019 could  well be remembered as a calamitous year in State’s history.

The tumultuous fact is State had to bear the brunt of Extremely Severe Cyclone (ESC) Fani in a month which was not considered as the traditional cyclone season in Odisha. The ESC Fani battered Odisha on May 3 so ruthlessly that it re-opens the old wounds of 1999 super cyclone.

Fani (named by Bangladesh and pronounced as Foni or snake hood) has been classified as the strongest tropical cyclone to hit Odisha after the 1999 super cyclone.  Fani, whose wind speed crossed over 200 km/hr when it hit Odisha, had a unique trait. It remained over Bay of Bengal for as long as 10-days, when historically ESCs made a landfall within 4-5 days post its formation.

Since the longer the stay, the deadlier a cyclone is. The fallout was disastrous. In a first, the State’s Capital, which was on Fani’s route post landfall near Puri, plunged into darkness for over a week as the ESC had very badly damaged the power infra in Capital city. The State’s zero casualty policy went for a toss as the ESC killed around 64 people.

Fani’s impact was felt on nearly half of Odisha. As many as 1.65 crore people in 14 districts have reported property damage and crop loss recorded in over 1 lakh hectare. State government has estimated the Fani loss at a whopping Rs 24,176 crore. The same report estimated the capital needed for revival at Rs 29,315 crore.  The ECS had pummelled the State’s infrastructure badly, because, Infra damage accounts for a whopping 42 per cent the total loss.

Post the unseasonal cyclone, the State witnessed flood fury during the Monsoon. Odisha saw a high of 1.09 lakh hectares land flooded in 2019 Monsoon, and nearly 84 per cent or a massive 91,220.74 hectares were farmland. Odisha figured 2nd after Karnataka in proportion of farmland affected by floods.

As this was not enough, Odisha faced the wrath of another ECS Bulbul in November, though Bulbul made landfall in West Bengal.  Bulbul affected crop loss in 2 lakh hectares in the State. Centre had released Rs 552 crore to Odisha as first tranche of Bulbul assistance.

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