Cyclone Fani aftermath: Railway, flight services resume in Odisha

Bhubaneswar/New Delhi: Two days after cyclone “Fani” hit Odisha coast causing widespread damage in several districts including Puri and Bhubaneswar, railways, flight operations and normal traffic have slowly started to resume in the State.

While the East Coast Railway has reintroduced 85 of the 138 cancelled trains on Howrah-Chennai main line connecting Bhubaneswar, as many as 41 commercial flights have begun operating in and out of Biju Patnaik International Airport in the capital city, a Home Ministry statement said on Sunday.

“Railways have reintroduced 85 of the 138 cancelled trains. The main line to Bhubaneswar has commenced operations while Puri will be ready to receive trains in about four to five days. Flight operations to Bhubaneswar resumed with 41 flights operating yesterday (Saturday), even though the local airport suffered extensive damage,” said the statement issued on the basis of information shared by the State government after a National Crisis Management Committee (NCMC) meeting chaired by Cabinet Secretary P.K. Sinha.

The NCMC on Sunday reviewed relief measures in the “Fani” affected areas of Odisha, West Bengal and Andhra Pradesh.

During the meeting, Odisha said that power and telecommunication facilities were gradually being restored in the cyclone-affected areas of the state.

“Major damages to the power transmission and distribution systems are reported in Bhubaneswar and Puri. Mobile services have been restored partially. In both the cities, about 70 percent water supply will be restored by Sunday evening. At least 60 percent of affected telecom towers were expected to be operational by Sunday evening and diesel supplies were being provided to make them functional using Diesel Generator (DG) sets in the absence of regular power supply,” the statement said as quoted by the Odisha government.

Sufficient stocks of diesel and other fuels are available in Odisha, said the statement, adding the state also sought supply of storage water tanks.

The Cabinet Secretary, in the NCMC meeting, directed that restoration of power and telecommunication facilities be accorded top priority and Ministry of Power and Department of Telecommunications to coordinate with Odisha government in this regard.

The Power Ministry has moved DG sets of 500 KVA, 250 KVA and 125 KVA capacity and also provided workmen gangs, who are engaged in restoration of power lines and towers. Andhra Pradesh and West Bengal have been requested to provide additional assistance to Odisha, particularly in the area of power. Cabinet Secretary also suggested that public sector companies in Power and Oil and Gas sector contribute towards relief efforts under their CSR funding,” said the statement.

The Ministry of Steel has made available about 3,500 steel electric poles and additional quantities as requested by Odisha are being arranged from other places.

The Defence Ministry, through transport planes and helicopters, moved medicines and other relief material, while naval and Coast Guard vessels near the Odisha coast have enough water to supply to affected areas.

Reviewing the relief efforts, the Cabinet Secretary directed that officers of Central ministries and agencies should work in close coordination with Odisha government and provide all required assistance expeditiously.

Chief Secretaries and Principal Secretaries of Andhra Pradesh, Odisha and West Bengal participated in the NCMC meeting through video conference. Senior Officers from Ministries of Home Affairs, Defence, Civil Aviation, Railways, Petroleum and Natural Gas, Power, Telecommunications, Steel, Drinking Water and Sanitation, Health, the NDMA and the NDRF also attended the meeting.