‘Overconfident over ‘zero casualty’, Odisha govt forgot its duty towards Cyclone-hit people’

Gajapati: One can easily imagine the extent of devastation caused by cyclone Titli from the fact that bodies of missing persons are still being recovered almost a week after the natural calamity hit Odisha on October 11.

The Odisha government miserably failed in tackling cyclone Titli and subsequent floods, said Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan after taking stock of the situation in Gajapati and Ganjam districts today.

“From roads to electricity and irregularities in distribution of relief materials, the State government has failed miserably to tackle cyclone Titli and subsequent flood,” said Pradhan.

Pradhan further said that the IMD had issued warning regarding the cyclone, its path, landfall and subsequently movement and had also categorically mentioned that the cyclone will further move towards Ganjam, Gajapati and Nayagarh districts.

“Odisha government’s preparedness was limited on two points – the cyclone will make its landfall near Gopalpur and focus was given only on evacuation of people to boast of zero-casualty. The administrative officials lost their way,” the Union Minister alleged.

“Nearly 18 ft of water was flowing in Aska. It is really unfortunate that the government is only busy in patting its own back instead of working for the development of the State and its people in such moment of grief,” Pradhan added.

Apart from BJP, the Congress also trained its guns on the Odisha government alleging shoddy relief and rehabilitation measures in Cyclone Titli-affected blocks and districts.

“One can easily imagine how the Odisha government is working as it is yet to come out with a clear report on casualties. Government has failed to address the problems of the cyclone and flood-hit people,” said Odisha Congress chief Niranjan Patnaik.

Senior BJD leader and finance minister Sashi Bhushan Behera on the other hand lauded the efforts the State government for announcing ex-gratia of Rs 10 lakh for the kin of the deceased.

“Doing politics on ‘zero casualty’ issue is really unfortunate,” said Behera.

BJD spokesperson Sulochana Das also targeted Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan and alleged that BJP has become intolerant.

“It’s already a week and so far no Union Minister from Delhi has taken stock of the cyclone-affected districts. Odisha CM has already visited the affected-districts and announced ex-gratia and other relief packages,” said Das.

On the other hand, Odisha government has pegged the total loss due to Cyclone Titli at Rs 2,765 crore. However, the total damage could increase as final reports are yet to be complied, said Special Relief Commissioner, Bishnupada Sethi.

Sethi informed that a total of 8,125 villages under 128 blocks of 17 districts have been affected by the natural calamity. “More than 60 lakh people have been affected and crops in 2.63 lakh hectares farmland damaged by Cyclone Titli,” said the SRC.

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