Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik pledged one year salary to the CM Relief Fund for the victims of Cyclone Fani, which caused widespread devastation in the state claiming at least 35 lives. Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama and Union minister Dharmendra Pradhan too came forward with donations for the Odisha cyclone victims and reconstruction work.

“As a mark of solidarity with the people of Odisha, I am donating Rs 1,000,000 from the Dalai Lama Trust to the efforts to provide relief and rebuilt,” read a letter written by the Dalai Lama’s office to Patnaik. He also hailed the measures taken by the Odisha government to tackle the cyclone. The Dalai Lama said human casualties had been minimal due to the proactive steps.

“At the same time, I would like to express my sadness about the lives that were lost, the devastation of property, and hardship this storm has caused to many people,” he added.

READ | Odisha demands 17000 crore cyclone assistance

Patnaik announced that he would donate one year’s salary to the CM relief fund, while Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan donated his one month’s salary.

The Government of Chhattishgarh has donated Rs 11 crore to the CMRF, while Uttar Pradesh and Tamil Nadu sent Rs 10 crore each, and Uttarakhand donated Rs 5 crore.

Earlier in the day, the state government sought an assistance of Rs 17,000 crore from the Centre towards the relief and restoration of 11 coastal districts hit by the Odisha cyclone.

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.