It is exactly a week since cyclone ‘Fani’ battered half a dozen districts of Odisha. As per the latest count,the Tempest has claimed fifty precious lives besides mindless destruction all around.Although quite a numbers of cyclones visited Odisha in the past 20 years after the 1999 Super Cyclone,’Fani’ surpassed all of them in terms of loss.Fani will be remembered more for the trail of devastation it left behind in Odisha’s golden triangle.
Puri,Konark and Bhubaneswar formed the triad of Odisha’s tourist circuit and much of the glory Odisha earned was for these three places which lay badly battered today.Puri has been the worst victim of Fani’s ferocity.So also the capital Bhubaneswar.It was only months ago that Bhubaneswar had come up with some precious infrastructure for the Hockey World Cup.All that is now history.Same is the story of the amazing greenery Bhubaneswar had come up with in the last two decades.It will take years to rebuild this infrastructure besides the expenditure it will entail.But the important question is how long it will take for the government to bring normalcy.Even though a week has passed in the meantime,Puri and Bhubaneswar has only partly recovered from the cyclone trauma.At this rate it will take months to put everything in order.
What shape the relief, rehabilitation and reconstruction will take can only be known after May 23rd when the results for the Lok Sabha and Vidhan Sabha elections are out.Whichever party comes to power,the task is clearly cut out.There will be lot of expectations from the new government both in terms of fulfilling the aspirations of the people and giving the much needed hope.As we witnessed during the time of electioneering,there was lot of bad blood between the ruling BJD and the BJP – the two main contenders for power in 2019.Theoritically speaking,if the same political arrangement continues in Bhubaneswar and Delhi as before May ,people will be once more in the throes of political mud-slinging.Unless the contending parties and their leaders see reason and work wholeheartedly to rebuild the state, times will be very taxing for the forty five million hapless people.
The immediate task for the new government – which will be in place in another couple of days – is to think of a long-term disaster preparedness not only for the Fani-hit districts but the whole state as well.As disasters have a chain effect and people across the board suffer, disaster management will require new and out-of-box ideas.It will not be an exaggeration to say that disaster-preparedness should be the only priority for the incoming government ,say, for the next two years.Unfortunate it may appear, just as Odisha had come out of the stigma of
a state prone to cyclones,Fani did a great disservice.
In the eventuality of different parties coming to power in Odisha and at the center two weeks from now,the only course open is to have better coordination and work closely to lift the Fani-ravaged people from distress.In fact,there is a lot of work to do in order to put the state back on track.With limited funds and a huge agenda in the aftermath of Fani,there should be concerted effort at every level to mitigate the sufferings of people.There is the civil society and an international community waiting to lend a helping hand to Fani-battered Odisha.It is up to the political leadership to play the role of a catalyst.Not a single government or agency can handle the situation arising out of recurrent natural disasters.
(The writer is Consulting Editor, Odisha Plus)