Would underground cabling in Odisha have saved electricity infra during Fani?

Bhubaneswar: The power infrastructure in Odisha particularly in Puri, Cuttack and Khurda districts suffered massive damage in the extremely severe cyclone Fani which hit the State on May 3.

Even though one month has passed, electricity is yet to be restored in the affected pockets. This has led to massive discontent among the residents and at the same time sparked a debate on whether it is time for Odisha to speed up underground cabling or come up with disaster resilient power infrastructure.

As per official sources, over 1.5 lakh electric poles were damaged during cyclone Fani while there have been losses to the tune of Rs 1,110 crore in Puri, Nimapara and Khurda divisions.

Though electricity supply has been restored for 97 percent consumers in Khurda district and 67 percent in Puri district, 100 percent power restoration work is yet to be completed even after a month.

Odisha government had planned an underground cabling system for several parts under the State Capital Region Improvement in Power System (SCRIPS), which aimed to ensure unfettered power supply to Bhubaneswar-Cuttack twin city. However, the project seems to have not made any headway.

Underground cabling work in Bhubaneswar started in 2016 by the Odisha Power Transmission Corporation Limited (OPTCL) and the Central Electricity Supply Utility (CESU). But not much seems to have come off the project as yet.

Moreover preparedness to deal with underground cabling issues during heavy rains leading to flooding needs to be dealt with.

Not only evacuating people from ‘likely to be affected’ areas before a calamity strikes, but also saving its infrastructure should be on the agenda of the government. The sooner the preparedness happens the better, given the recurrence of natural disasters in the state that faces the brunt everytime due to its location next to the sea.