Fani winds bare chinks in Odisha’s post disaster management

Capital city trapped in a vicious circle of lack of mobile services hampering restoration of power infra and the vice-versa

Bhubaneswar: Despite only around 10 per cent of mobile towers in the Capital city getting damaged by gusty winds of Fani on May 3, the telecom network in the city stands completely disrupted till date. And telco majors blame the network outages on power blackout in the city since Friday last.

However, some semblance of telecom services seem to have restored on Tuesday, when major telecom players like Idea-Vodafone, Airtel, Jio and BSNL have decided to provide seamless telecom services under the inter-operability agreement in the Capital city from May 2.

Conversely, senior functionaries of a major telco observed that unless the power supply is fully restored in the city, seamless telecom services are not possible. “In order to charge fully functional towers and base stations, we require grid power support. It’s impossible to keep telecom towers operational for more than 24 hours with DG sets,” he explained.

Post Fani, the chinks in Odisha’s disaster management were to fore as a vicious circle was created, where State power utilities blame lack of telecom services proving a dampener in restoring damaged power infra; and telcos in Odisha blame power disruption a top hurdle in resuming telecom services in Fani-hit Bhubaneswar.

The post Fani blues reveal that in Odisha, it seems, disaster management is limited to evacuation of people from vulnerable coastal pockets prior to cyclone landfall.

When the Odisha Government here struggle to restore 90 per cent power supply in the State capital even after five long days, Andhra Pradesh Government had restored power supply to Hudhud hit villages within a fortnight in 2014.

In contrast, Odisha Chief Secretary Aditya Padhi was non-committal on a date for complete restoration of power supply to Fani-hit villages in Khurda and Puri districts. Highly placed sources in Cesu hint at full restoration of power supply in Fani-hit villages in the districts of Puri and Khurda will take a month’s time.

The Fani winds, it seems, have blown the lids of State’s unpreparedness to deal with the cyclone enormity.

Significantly, Energy Secretary Hemant Sharma rued that as the skilled manpower required to restore power infra quickly is over 10,000 but the availability was around 5,000 tells the sad tale of State’s poor post disaster management.

In Andhra Pradesh, to meet Hudhud fallout, the energy department there had formed a centralised breakdown teams armed with possible necessary power equipments needed post cyclone disaster. Several squads of skilled manpower were diverted to likely cyclone hit districts and were stationed there to pick up the restoration work immediately post cyclone.

Necessary power equipments like transformers, poles, conductor, insulators and other spares were stocked in the susceptible districts in the eye of storm.