Inland Odisha villages too hit by cyclone; crops lost

Paralakhemundi: Much has been written about cyclone Phailin's devastation in coastal Odisha, but equally destructive has been the storm in some inland areas, which are suffering beyond the pale of media coverage.
The damage to livelihood and property is not any less than that witnessed in the areas close to the coastline.
These regions now have requested the state government to allow them to spend money on constructing cemented cyclone relief centres which are an essential public infrastructure in coastal areas of Odisha.
The Gajapati district is right on the border with Andhra Pradesh along the National Highway 5, with the Srikakulam district of the Telugu-speaking state just two kilometers from the district headquarters here.
More than 15,000 houses and many acres of farming fields in this district have been destroyed by the strong winds and rains that were brought about by the impact of the cyclone.
All the 2,042 villages in this area have been affected by the cyclonic storm that damaged houses and paddy fields.
"More than 15,000 houses have been damaged here although this district has no coastline. There is no loss of life but livestock have been killed and there is an extensive damage to the electricity supply system. The strong winds brought the maximum damage," Gajapati Deputy Collector B K Hota told PTI.
An assessment exercise is on to tabulate the total damage, said Hota, who is also in-charge of the disaster and calamity cell.
The DC said that they are proposing to the state government to build 'pucca' relief centres in this area as damage from cyclone fury has been seen here for the first time.
"We are thinking to write to the state government that we should be allowed to create the cyclone relief centres on the lines of those which are built in coastal districts," Hota said.
The maximum loss, the officer said, has occurred due to strong winds generated by the cyclone as heavy rains were averted because of the presence of Mahendragiri mountain ranges that stand strong between this area and the worst affected Ganjam district.
A number of electricity poles have fallen and power sub-stations damaged because of the strong winds, a senior electricity board officer of the district said.
"Power supply has bee restored to about 40 villages but still theer are many more are to go," the official said.
A number of crops like paddy, maize, banana and cotton have been destroyed in this area which poses a big problem for the livelihood of farmers and other weaker sections of the population too.
"Almost all the 129 gram panchayats have reported that their agricultural crops and land have been affected because of the cyclone. Despite being far from the coast, the damage is much here," Hota said.
The district calamity response centre here had to work overtime here as, officials said, the Ganjam district control room had been destroyed by the Cyclone.
"We did receive a number of calls and messages meant for Ganjam in our control room here. It was a minor role," an official in the district Collector's office said.