With Cyclone Phailin moving closer to the Odisha coast by the hour, most residents in the vulnerable areas have their Plan Bs ready. But a few thousand villagers in Puri district have left everything to the vagaries of the very severe cyclonic storm.
These villagers of Krushnaprasad block reside inside Chilika lagoon — Asia’s largest brackish water lake. Spread over an area of 1,100 sq. km area, Chilika has many villages scattered over few islands.
If the sea surges as predicted by meteorological stations across the globe, these villagers are surely bracing for one of the worst calamities of their lifetimes.
“We have identified some safer places within the Chilika and relocated around 40,000 villagers. Most of these villages do not have connection with land mass. In this case, their situation is very precarious,” Rabindra Kumar Pradhan, Deputy Collector of Puri said in Puri on Saturday.
Mr. Pradhan said units of National Disaster Response Force and Odisha Disaster Rapid Action Force had been deployed inside the lake and these personnel would make best of their efforts in any eventuality.
Chilika, which is Odisha’s premier eco-tourism destination, have been off the limits for tourists for some days now.
At one point, Chilika’s mouth is open to Bay of Bengal. People fear sea surge could impact Chilika very badly.
Chilika’s ecosystem has already been hit by Phailin. Migratory birds which had started flocking Chilika’s Nalabana Bird Sanctuary ahead of the winter season had already fled. A week ago flocks of Urasian Wigien and Pintails were spotted.