For past 12 hours, 40-year-old Dhimulu at Penthakata, a fishermen village in Puri, has been constantly watching sea surging steadily just 100 metre away from his polythene-roofed house. But he is apparently nonchalant.
“Where would we go? Does the administration have capacity to accommodate 50000 people? Most of the residents from Penthakata have remained inside their houses. We will brave the cyclone,” averred Mr. Dhimulu.
Despite the massive evacuation undertaken by Odisha government, Penthakata village fishermen, situated right on the edge of Bay of Bengal coast, are still occupying the thatched houses and tin-roofed small concrete houses.
Similarly, M. Laxman whose house faces the Bay of Bengal remains undaunted. “We know that the storm would prevail for two to three hours. My family will stay together during the hour of crisis. There is little space in cyclone shelters for us. Moreover, we cannot leave our houses,” said Mr. Laxman.
Government officials announced that there would be forcible evacuation of vulnerable people from the coast. However, there is no such drive seen in this fishermen village.
In the meantime, Bhubaneswar meteorological centre has issued warning-number 15 for Odisha coast categorized as red message. Although very severe cyclonic storm, Phailin over west-central and adjoining east-central Bay of Bengal, moved north-westwards during past 6 hours and lay centred over west-central and adjoining east-central Bay of Bengal about 355 km south-southeast of Paradip and 320 km southeast of Gopalpur, fishermen are still unmoved.
Even as the sea surged by one metre in Bay of Bengal, Keshuri Babu is trying to salvage his country boat from the ever advancing Bay of Bengal. There are about 1000 country boats lying on the beach. Fishermen were trying to tie boats with their houses as well as combining those at one place. Unaware of the severity of Phailin, many say as fishermen they have inherent ability to cope with any kind of sea surge.
When contacted Revenue Divisional Commissioner (central) Arabinda Padhee said, “We know fishermen were unwilling to leave their houses. Local Minister and district magistrate had tried their best to convince people from leaving the vulnerable place. We will make another attempt within next couple of hours.”