Except for 20-25 villages road traffic to all marooned areas restored
Officials heaved a sigh of relief on Monday after week-long rain in the district halted and threat of flood from Rushikulya river and its tributaries receded.
The torrential rain, which wrought havoc close on the heels of the October 12 cyclone Phailin, damaged 3.43 lakh houses and crops in 3.45 lakh hectares, hampering relief operations in all the 22 blocks.
“Now the situation is not grim. Except for 20-25 villages in Purushottampur, Kabisuryanagar, Aska and Ganjam blocks, road traffic to all the marooned areas has been established,” District Collector Krishan Kumar told The Hindu.
Even as officials stepped up efforts for sending relief material by boat to villages, many people complained that the government assistance was inadequate. At several places, they demanded community kitchens as they were fed up with eating dry food — comprising flattened rice and jaggery — ever since they were evacuated to safer places a day before Phailin battered the Gopalpur coast.
A day after Phailin, most moved back to their homes. Those who were rendered homeless, took shelter in government buildings or under make-shift homes made with polythene sheets provided by the government mostly in the fishermen hamlets in Arjipalli and Haripur.
At Nandanapalli, officials could establish road communication by cutting a huge tree that blocked the entry to several villages due to flooding from a hill stream, about 20 km from here and 60 km from Berhampur, by engaging the services of the Orissa Disaster Rapid Action Force.
Jagannadham, 65, a farmer, said the government should continue with the community kitchen in their village for some time, which was organised only for three days after Phailin devastated several houses in their area.
“We have experienced flooding twice this month – first during Phailin and subsequently due to incessant rain. The hill stream submerged our village for two times in quick succession even before we could recover from the shock inflicted on us by the killer-storm.” With despair and uncertainty looming large over his future, Chinapalli Lingaraj, a farmer, along with other villagers and Umuridharmasanapur sarpanch Sukanta Kumar Tripathi said the government should be liberal in organising community kitchens till they provide them some source of income.
“How can we cook rice when there is severe scarcity of firewood,” asked ward committee member M. Dhanu.
Ganjam Additional District Magistrate and Nodal Officer Ashwini Mishra said their first task was to provide relief to all and they would focus on rehabilitation measures once the situation improved.
The district administration has received proposals from 75 NGOs for sponsoring rehabilitation measures.