Kerala floods: Stranded Odisha weavers ‘safe;’ special train to bring back rescued people

Bhubaneswar: Several weavers from different parts of Odisha who are stranded in flood-hit Kerala during their visit to attend Saras Mela organized by Kutumbshree at Chengannur town are reportedly safe.

According to sources, the weavers from 11 Self Help Groups (SSG), are ‘safe’ and have taken shelter in a college near Anantapuram.

Nearly 21 weavers from Sonepur, Cuttack, Sundergarh, Khurda, Bolangir, Jajpur, Mayurbhanj, Kendrapara and Nayagarh are stranded in flood-hit Kerala and efforts are on to ensure their safe return, government officials said.

“The organisers had asked us to move to our respective quarters following heavy rain forecast on August 15. But when we returned next day, our stalls were covered with 10 ft water.
All our products worth nearly Rs 25 to 30 lakh have been destroyed in flood,” said Dhruba Meher, a weaver from Sonepur.

ORMAS director, Biranchi Das informed that all the stranded weavers have been evacuated safely.

“21 artisans including five women had gone to Kerala and were subsequently stranded following heavy rains. All their products have been damaged. As the fair was insured, there will be no problem in getting compensation,” said Das.

Das further informed that the situation in Kerala is improving with water level starting to recede from several places. All the stranded weavers are expected to board a special train from Kerala on Wednesday or Thursday, he added.

Special Relief Commissioner (SRC) Bishnupada Sethi informed that a control room has been set up and a helpline is functioning round the clock.

“Based on the information received from family and relatives in Odisha, efforts are on to rescue those stranded in Kerala,” said Sethi.

Labour Commissioner Anjan Kumar Manik stated help from Odia community in Kerala has been sought to extend assistance to those stranded.

“Two senior labour officers are stationed in Kerala. We have booked four coaches in two special trains to bring back Odias stranded in Kerala. A special train from Kochuveli left Kerala at 11 AM today,” said Manik.