Swayamsevaks swung into action immediately after the cyclone hit Odisha, Andhra
As the cyclone struck, it’s the Sangh swayamsevaks who under the banner of Utkal Bipanna Sahayata Samiti (UBSS) spontaneously came out of their homes to extend a hand of love and support to the people in distress. The cyclone with a gale speed of 200 km per hour and heavy rains ravaged Ganjam and affected 11 districts—bringing distruction and depression everywhere.
Though the Government claimed they did an exemplary work by evacuating lakhs of people to safety before the cyclone could really struck, it was the swayamsevaks who did the actual work. At places like Paikabasa in Mayurbhanj district, 5,000 people were evacuated saving them from devastating flood. In rescue, relief or cleaning up of roads for communication, the swayamsevaks were on the forefront.
Spread over 5 critically affected districts, the swayamsevaks served cooked food to more than 4,000 people who would have gone hungry without Sangh intervention. Durgadevi and Dhabasila in Balasore district, Aryapalli, Gopalpur of Ganjam district were the places where swayamsevaks really did outstanding work.
Sangh swayamsevaks managed to take more than 5,000 people to safety before the deadly cyclone could struck. Swayamsevaks also provided shelter to about 7,000 people. More than 16 roads were cleared by the RSS workers for road connectivity in the localities.
Talking to Organiser Shri Prakash Betala, president of Utkal Bipanna Sahayata Samiti said, “UBSS started relief work in five districts including Ganjam after cyclone and flood. The UBBS is running four relief centres at Brahmapur, three centres at Gopalpur and a relief centre at Chhatrapur besides Ganjam UBSS has also started relief work in cyclone affected Puri District and flood affected Mayurbhanj, Balasoe and Bhdrak District.” “Utkal Bipanna Sahayata Samiti will adopt some villages for rehabilitation,” he added.
Government missing in action: BJP
Advance and detailed information by meteorological department coupled with massive publicity in the media could have saved the loss of life in vulnerable pockets, said Rajya Sabha MP and BJP general secretary Dharmendra Pradhan after touring cyclone ravaged Ganjam district. However he regretted that the very day after the cyclone struck, the Government was found missing and failed to address its prime responsibilities like relief, rehabilitation and immediate repair of infrastructure vital for life in cyclone ravaged districts. Arguing that the ground level Government officials are yet to do spot verification of loss of property and livelihood, Shri Pradhan accused the Government of banking on imaginary and contradictory figures regarding loss and damages provided by the State Secretariat.
Timely action saved thousands
Timely and quick action on the part of the Indian Meteorological Department and the Disaster Management Authority saved the lives of thousands of people during the recent cyclone which struck the coastal areas of Odisha and Andhra Pradesh on October 12. The cyclone named as ‘Phailin’ with winds of more than 200 kilometers per hour destroyed crops and infrastructure of millions. Seeing the intensity of the cyclone, there are very few casualties.
A cyclone of the same intensity had killed around 10,000 persons in 1999 . But this time, due the timely warning to the people, over 10 lakh people were evacuated much before the cyclone could hit. The Army, Navy and Indian Air Force (IAF) teams were deployed for rescue and relief of people in the affected areas. Thirty helicopters of the IAF were used for relief work in the affected areas.
After the cyclone, many parts of Odisha and Andhra Pradesh witnessed over 100 mm rain due to which the roads and railway communication got paralysed. The continuous raining also hit the power supply. Effect of the cyclone was also witnessed in Bihar, Jharkhand and West Bengal.
“Our 29 teams are involved in the rescue work. We are consistently rescuing people and shifting them to the safer places. We have rescued around 1,600 people. Our team is still working on removing debris from damaged buildings, cutting and removing fallen trees and electric poles. Over 1,100 kilometer of roads has been cleared so far,” said Shri Randeep Kumar Rana, Deputy Inspector General of National Disaster Response Force, said while talking to Organiser. Ganjam and Gopalpur in Odisha and Srikakulam in Andhra Pradesh are the worst hit in this cyclone. In Ganjam alone, Phailin damaged nearly 2.5 lakh houses and ravaged 2 lakh hectare of agriculture land.
—Nishant Kumar Azad
Some previous major cyclones
Andhra Pradesh Cyclone Godavari (November 11, 1996): At the speed of 260 kilometers per hour, it hit Andhra Pradesh, uprooting 300 kilometers of developed land and killing 1,000 people. With 925 people got missing and 580,000 homes destroyed.
Odisha Cyclone (October 29, 1999): At least 13 million people, including 3.3 million children, 5 million women and nearly 3.5 million older people were affected in this cyclone. It destroyed 25,000 houses and the estimated loss of property was Rs 1,000,000 crore. While the official death toll then was 9,885 people and about 1,500 children were orphaned.
Hurricane Katrina (August 28, 2005): Hurricane Katrina was one of the five deadliest hurricanes in the history of the United States. Men, women, children and cattle throughout the Gulf Coast region suffered badly in the aftermath of Katrina. At least 1,833 people died and total property damage was estimated at $108 billion.
Hurricane Rita (September 21, 2005): After Katrina, Hurricane Rita shook the humanity. It claimed the lives of 120 people and the damaged was about $12 billion. It was estimated that around 2 million people were affected by Rita.