The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has directed the Odisha Chief Secretary to furnish a report within six weeks on the alleged hardship being faced by cyclone victims and the failure of government agencies to provide food and water to them.

Taking suo motu cognisance of a media report that relief material is not reaching in some parts of Puri and Khurda districts, and alleged use of force by the police to disperse the survivors asking for food, the rights panel also asked the government to take immediate steps to redress the grievances of the people affected by Cyclone Fani that ravaged Odisha on May 3.

Quoting the media report, the NHRC said: “It is understood that the state administration, in collaboration with central agencies and NGOs is trying to cope up with the situation but there seems to be necessity to identify areas which require immediate relief and rehabilitation.”

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The Congress meanwhile demanded that the Centre declare Cyclone Fani a ‘national calamity’ and depute the Army to undertake restoration work, adding that the state government had over the last one week failed to carry out proper relief work.

Speaking to mediapersons, OPCC president Niranjan Patnaik narrated the plight of cyclone-affected people in Puri district, veteran Congress leader Narasingha Mishra said the Army must be engaged.

Mishra said the magnitude of devastation warranted declaration of ‘national calamity’. “Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik should also write letters to his counterparts across the country seeking assistance,” he added.

Patnaik, who visited distressed areas of Puri, said the BJD government had failed to provide water to the affected people for over four days. “There is a fear of outbreak of disease in the cyclone hit areas and the health system has collapsed,” he alleged.

Cyclone Fani hit the Odisha coast on May 3, Puri was the worst hit. People across the affected areas have been without electricity amidst the gruelling summer, which has made life more miserable

Odisha Information and Public Relations Secretary SK Singh said on Wednesday the death toll had increased to 41, while the office of Special Relief Commissioner (SRC) said the livestock casualty figure stood at 21,769,98.

People are struggling to get electricity in the peak of summer, with the rising temperature only making things worse. The state administration is trying hard to restore power in Puri, parts of Khurdha district and state capital Bhubaneswar.

“Electricity service in 80 per cent areas of Bhubaneswar is likely to be restored by May 10. Entire city may get electricity by May 12,” Singh said on May 8. He said it would take time to restore supply to the entire Puri district because of the extensive damage. Puri city is likely to get power from May 12.

Cyclone Fani resulted in immense loss to property too.

According to assessment by a public general insurance company, losses to crops, property and vehicles amount to nearly Rs 3,500 crore. The Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India has asked insurance companies to expedite the claims to ensure quick relief to the cyclone victims.