Hit hardest by Cyclone ‘Phailin’, the coastal district of Ganjam is estimated to have suffered a loss of at least Rs 3,000 crore in the nature’s fury which has deprived lakhs of people of their livelihood and damaged 2.4 lakh houses.

Fishermen have suffered massive losses as their nets, boats and catamarans have been damaged. The farming community has also been hit with the standing paddy crop submerged in water.

Moved by the tragedy that has struck the hapless people here, Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, after a visit to relief camps, has ordered payment of Rs. 500 each to the affected even as the administration will begin distribution of ration free of cost for two months.

Official sources have pegged the loss in Ganjam at more than Rs 3,000 crore in this district alone. Power infrastructure has been damaged to a great extent.

“There has been extensive damage to the standing paddy crop as a huge area of land covering paddy fields has been submerged in rain water. There has been huge loss to horticulture farming also as an enormous number of mango and coconut trees have been uprooted,” District Collector Krishan Kumar told PTI.

He said Ganjam is the worst-affected district in Odisha in terms of loss of livelihood and property.

“More than 2.4 lakh houses have been damaged which includes fishermen huts and other kutcha houses,” Mr. Kumar said.

A special relief package for fishermen will also be announced by the government.

Fishermen have suffered massive losses as their nets, boats and catamarans have been damaged, the Collector said.

He said nine people have lost lives due to cyclone in this district alone.

In order to start the relief work early, Mr. Kumar said the state government has decided to decentralise the procurement of essential food items like rice and pulses and edible oil.

“Till now, 800 quintals of flattened rice, 3,000 quintals of rice and 1,800 quintals of pulses have been dispatched to the affected coastal areas of Ganjam,” Mr. Kumar said.

As many as 4,000 trucks of rice are being brought from different states.

The authorities also fear spread of diarrhoea and other epidemics in the marooned areas.

“We have mobilised 10 mobile health teams to the coastal areas which will disinfect the source of drinking water,” Mr. Kumar said.

“Complete restoration of supply would take as much as a month. All roads are being opened up in the district,” the Collector said.

Sidhant Mohapatra, a BJD MP from Berhampur, said the administration faces a challenge to ensure a source of livelihood at the earliest for the affected people.

“The paddy crop has been destroyed completely and we now face a challenge to provide a source of livelihood for the farmers and villagers of the coastal belts in Odisha,” said Mr. Mohapatra.

Other neighbouring areas have also seen a bad damage of the paddy crop which is the main source of livelihood for people of that region, he added.