Fourteen days have passed since Cyclone Fani pulverised the state, but darkness continues to engulf the worst-affected Puri district with electricity eluding the residents.
Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik held a review meeting in Puri two days ago, with the focus on restoration of power. While the Grand Road to the Puri Jagannath Temple has got back power, no other place in the town, as also the periphery villages, have been lucky so far.
Puri was ravaged the most with Cyclone Fani making landfall in the coastal district. The state government agencies are facing a daunting task to restore power infrastructure in the worst-hit district with the cyclone triggering colossal damage to it.
Demand to engage the Army, as voiced by veteran Narasingha Mishra, fell on deaf ears and people are continuing to suffer. The entire power infrastructure in Puri district has been devastated in the cyclone which damaged 75 towers of 220 KV and 25 towers of 132 KV, official sources said, adding that the Power Grid Corporation of India Limited (PGCIL) had been entrusted to rebuild the 220 KV towers in the district.
One 132 KV tower has been damaged on the Chandaka-Puri road. It will be restored by ERS. As some of the broken towers are located in waterlogged areas, it required more time for restoration, said, senior officials.
Notwithstanding the government officials’ claim of speedy restoration of power, residents of Puri are not in a mood to believe governmental commitment.
Seething in anger, people hit the streets at several places giving vent to their anger against what they said lethargic post-cyclone governmental restoration work.
Almost a fortnight is about to go by since the cyclone strike, but twisted electric poles remain as they were 13 days ago.
“We have lost faith in the governmental agencies. Unless power is restored in the next 48 hours, people will definitely take the law into their hands. Major law and order situation is bound to flare up in Puri,” said Puri resident Sagar Mohapatra.
“Puri is being treated like a stepchild. Like Puri, power infrastructure in Bhubaneswar was equally damaged. But power supply has been restored in Bhubaneswar as it is home to ministers, politicians, bureaucrats and influential people. It’s insensitivity on part of the government to leave the people of Puri to bear the gruelling heat and humidity,” said another local, Prabhudatta Acharya from Basuleisahi.
The situation in areas close to the sea towards Konark and near Chilka lake, such as Satapada and Brahmagiri, remain unattended. Labour is not available as most of them have to spend time in the queue to fetch the 50 kg rice and Rs 2000 provided as a relief by the government.