Op-Ed: Government Must Accelerate Work in Fani-Hit Areas

By Ashutosh Mishra

Bhubaneswar: More than three months have passed since cyclone Fani struck the Odisha coast but the state is yet to recover fully from its effects. People in several villages of Puri district, which was the worst affected by the calamity, are still struggling to rebuild their damaged houses. Power continues to play truant in many of these villages.

The state government deserves praise for saving precious lives by evacuating people from the danger zones before the cyclone made a landfall. Action was prompt and decisive but work on the reconstruction front seems to be slow. It is heart-rending to see children attending classes in schools with badly damaged buildings in some of the cyclone-hit areas. This will make a bad impact on their impressionable minds.

The government needs to accelerate the reconstruction work and if funds are a constraint then it should seek central help without any delay. Now that chief minister, Naveen Patnaik’s equations with Prime Minister, Narendra Modi and the government led by him are extremely friendly one can expect generous assistance from the Centre.

But funds alone do not guarantee success. Much depends upon timely and efficient execution of work. One had seen efficiency at play when the newly elected Naveen Patnaik government had launched a massive restoration and reconstruction drive in coastal Odisha in the wake of 1999 super-cyclone. It was a huge challenge but the government’s efficiency won the day.

It is true that help had poured in from international agencies and also from different parts of the country for the rehabilitation and reconstruction drive undertaken in the coastal belt that lay in tatters. Some state governments had sent in their teams with some of them adopting particular districts.

But the focus was always on the government of the day in the state. It was a Biju Janata Dal(BJD)-BJP coalition government led by Naveen Patnaik fully conscious of its responsibilities. The chief minister knew that people had jettisoned Congress because of its inept handling of the situation arising out of the super-cyclone and given him a chance.

He did not let go of the opportunity. Various departments of the government worked at a full throttle to rehabilitate the cyclone-hit people in the affected districts. Damaged houses were rebuilt and so also the damaged infrastructure. Distribution of compensation presented a huge challenge as identification of victims was not an easy task. But a few controversies notwithstanding it was carried out successfully. People of the state were duly impressed and voted the government back to power in the next elections.

The same kind of sincerity seems to be missing this time. A sense of complacency appears to have overtaken the administration. This might have been induced by Biju Janata Dal’s (BJD) fifth successive electoral victory that was comfortably achieved.

But this is not a good sign. One hopes that chief minister having reiterated his commitment to serve the people of the state even better in his fifth innings at the helm will ensure efficiency and accelerate the reconstruction drive in the state’s Fani-hit areas.

(DISCLAIMER: This is an opinion piece. The views expressed are author’s own and have nothing to do with OTV’s charter or views. OTV does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same.)