Odisha government, on Monday, sought an assistance of Rs 17,000 crore from the centre towards the relief and restoration of 11 coastal districts hit by Cyclone Fani.

Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik said, “We have set global standards in saving peoples’ life and evacuating 12 lakh people, now we should start working for setting global standards in making coastal Odisha disaster resilient.”

The CM, in his brief statement at the review meeting held by PM Narendra Modi, also took the opportunity to iterate the special category state status demand. Odisha was hit by Cyclone Phailin in 2013, Cyclone Hudhud in 2014, drought in 2015, Cyclone Titli in 2018 and now Fani. The recurrence of natural calamities in itself justifies the demand for special category status to Odisha, he said.

It may be noted here that the BJD government has been voicing the demand since the year 2000. In fact, the then Deputy PM L K Advani had rejected the demand made by the BJD which was in the NDA.

More recently, the central government and the NITI Ayog had also rejected the demand for special category status to Odisha.

CM Naveen Patnaik had made it an electoral issue by telling people that the BJP had made the promise in its manifesto in 2014 and gone back on its promise.

In fact, during his campaign, Patnaik had launched a virulent attack on the BJP-led central government and termed BJP leaders as “election tourists” as they had never visited the state during natural calamities but have turned up to seek votes. Huge advertisements were put up telling people to ask the BJP leaders, including the PM, on where they were when Phailin, Hudhud, Titli and drought devastated the state.

Odisha government made a detailed presentation of the devastation caused by extremely severe cyclonic storm Fani that hit the coastal districts on 3 May to Prime Minister Narendra Modi here on Monday.

The restoration of power infrastructure will require Rs 10,000 crore while housing – converting all kutcha houses to pucca ones in the coastal districts will call for an investment of Rs 7000 crore, said the state government.

Telecommunication network was the third major sector damaged extensively by the cyclone and it needs immediate restoration, said the state in its memorandum.