Residents yet to get over the damages of ‘Cyclone Phailin’

Berhampur: Devastation caused by ‘Cyclone Phailin’ destroyed the house of Parbati Mohanty in Odisha’s Ganjam district on October 12, 2013 who lost her home and hearth.

Two years later, 75-year-old Parbati of Bhimarao Peta in Berhampur is living in a makeshift hut along with her handicapped daughter and two grand-daughters as they still await for rehabilitation as promised by the state government.

Parbati says she had hoped they would get a pucca house after the Phailin when the government announced to make Berhampur a slum-free town.

“I have knocked on all possible doors to get the promised house. Even two years after the cyclone, we are living in a makeshift hut made of some broken asbestos and old clothes,” she said.

Berhampur town has a whopping 163 slum pockets. Most slum dwellers in the town had borne the brunt of the killer cyclone, which flattened around 35,000 dwelling units.

Around 120 and 125 families respectively from Getta and Canal streets – both slum pockets – had lost their houses in the Phailin and are living in miserable conditions.

‘We faced a lot of problems during the rain,” said Babu Khan of Getta. “Even though the officials had promised to rehabilitate us in pucca houses, nothing has been done so far,” said Kumari Sahu (65), a resident of Canal Street.

“I have apprised Berhampur Municipal Corporation (BMC) authorities about their plight. We hope they will get justice,” said local corporator Mamata Bisoi.

BMC slum development officer Sangram Panda said the affected people might be included in different schemes of the government. “Work has already started to construct 8,008 pucaca houses in 83 slum pockets under the Rajiv Awas Yojana (RAY) at an estimated cost of Rs 212-crore. Of this, the Centre has provided Rs 46 crore to the BMC,” he said.

BMC has signed an agreement with three central public undertakings for construction of these houses, he informed.

“As per the agreement, they are to be completed by March 2017.

The project includes development of infrastructure facilities like road, drain, street lights, water supply etc,” he added.

The Rs 180-crore World Bank-aided Odisha Disaster Recovery Project (ODRF) will fund development of infrastructure facilities in other slums. The project includes road and drains, pipe replacement, storm water drainage and construction of some important roads.

“After conducting a survey, we are preparing the detailed project report. The tender process is likely to start in January next year,” said a BMC engineer.