This Article is From May 20, 2019

In Cyclone-Prone Odisha, There Are Unsung Heroes In Every Corner

Odisha is arguably the most cyclone prone state in India. In fact, cyclones are the new normal for us.

Of the 1,019 cyclonic disturbances that hit the Indian subcontinent in the last century, almost 90% (890) hit the eastern coast while Odisha experienced 260 of them (that is 25 per cent of the total disaster faced by India), the worst being the Super Cyclone in 1999, which left 10,000 dead.

For Cyclone Fani, we learnt our lessons and put out our best foot forward. Early evacuation and disaster impact management restricted casualties to 64.

The initial extent of damages is around Rs 12,000 crore. Everyone has come together to take part in the rebuilding process.

Property and resources may have been crippled but it takes more than a Category 4 storm to kill the spirit of the people of Odisha.

There are unsung heroes at every corner, working in the scorching heat to get things back on track - from power to water to food. 

With the efforts of various government agencies, Bhubaneswar has almost returned to normal, but a million trees poorer.

Not even six months ago, Bhubaneswar was buzzing with players and tourists as we hosted the most successful Hockey Men's World Cup. We had refurbished a state-of-the-art stadium in a record time, increasing the capacity from 8,000 to 15,000. 

In fact, not just the stadium but the entire city had a facelift with the efforts of the Bhubaneswar Smart City Limited, Bhubaneswar Development Authority and the Works Department.

Kalinga stadium didn't just host the World Cup or Hero Super Cup, but also sheltered the people from shanties during the storm.

Massive arrangements were made by the Special Relief Commissioner and the Odisha Industrial Infrastructure Development Corporation (IDCO) to provide relief to the affected families. The Odisha Rural Development and Marketing Society (ORMAS) set up a base at the Kalinga Stadium on May 2 to airdrop relief material that included chuda (rice snack eaten with jaggery and sugar), jaggery, water bottle, candles, match box, biscuit packets, salt and basic first-aid medicine for ailments such as dysentery, fever, cold, etc.

A control room was set up at the stadium on May 5 for the distribution of relief material received from areas that were not affected.

Tata Steel and Tata Power set up a control room along with the disaster relief force for the restoration of power supply and to clear roads in Puri, Khorda and Bhubaneswar. This control room is set up at the Kalinga Stadium.

The stadium wasn't spared by Fani. The winds did damage our athletics stadium (rooftop was blown away) but the main hockey stadium - which is set to host the FIH Hockey Series Finals in June - suffered minor damage. Repair and restoration work is on. 

After all, we are not the 'Sports Capital' of India for nothing.

Puri is bouncing back and power has been restored to the Jagannath temple. The Konark Temple has been reopened. The good news from Balukhand is that many spotted deer have survived.

While the beautiful coastline is on its way to revival, we call upon travelers and explorers to explore enchanting Odisha.

We also want the citizens who braved the storm to perk up and cheer their favourite teams in the hockey matches. Spectators can get free entry for morning games in the Kalinga Stadium. I also hope to welcome visitors to soak in the atmosphere and travel around the state. 

Vishal K. Dev is Commissioner-cum-Secretary, Odisha Tourism and  Department of Sports and Youth Sevices (DSYS), Government of Odisha.

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