With cyclone ‘Phailin’ leaving a trail of destruction in coastal Odisha, the Centre on Monday acted swiftly, announcing “flexibility” in its various programmes for reconstructing houses and roads there and asked the State government to send proposals as soon as possible.

In a letter to Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh said there would also be relaxation in provisions of rural job scheme MNREGA in the affected districts.

Considering the extensive damage to houses of the poor in villages, the Centre will provide additional assistance to the State under the Indira Awas Yojana, the Minister said.

“This may well involve reconstruction of Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY) roads and additional assistance under Indira Awas Yojana,” Mr. Ramesh said.

Recalling the steps taken by the Ministry to provide assistance to Uttarakhand natural disaster, the Minister said that same flexibility will be extended to Odisha to “implement MNREGA more effectively” in the affected areas.

People in crisis-hit villages of Uttarakhand are getting employment for 150 days instead of 100 days under the MNREGA scheme in view of the huge losses they have suffered in the recent calamity.

The Minister feels that such a relaxation would also help the poor in Phailin affected villages of Odisha to rebuild their lives.

Cyclone ‘Phailin’ has hit lakhs of people, damaging houses and laying waste paddy crop worth hundreds of crores.

Giving details of the devastation caused by the cyclone, Odisha Government has said 14,514 villages in 12 districts have been affected, hitting a population of 80,53,620.

Over 2.34 lakh houses have been damaged and extensive damage has been caused to ‘kutcha’ houses.