Satyamma( 60), refuses to leave her house the roof of which was blown away by the cyclone that swept the south coast on Saturday night.
Around 100 houses that the fishermen had put up on the shore of Podampeta in Chhatrapur block in Ganjam district have been razed to the ground. Satyamma and a few others were left with partially damaged houses.
“I don’t have fuel wood to cook. From fallen trees, we cut wood and use it to cook from the meagre ration given to us,” she said, uncertainty writ large on her face. Her husband Janga and son Satya Kumar said the government did not bother to give them kerosene and other material required for cooking. As a result, they had to borrow money at hefty interest from their relatives.
In the same village, Padmacharan Pradhan (60) points to an uprooted tamarind tree. “This huge tree had existed since my childhood. Now it will not survive. We have lost our houses. We hope someone will come to our rescue to rebuild our houses and help us start our life afresh,” he said.
When a team of journalists from The Hindu reached their village, 10 km from this district headquarters town, after crossing a canal, the villagers poured out their woes, saying no senior government official or political leader called on them to express their solidarity with them after the severe cyclone Phailin left a trail of destruction. The cold storage and the dry fish yard along with 50 motorised fibre boats were totally destroyed in the storm when seawater entered their village.
“We could save our lives because we were evacuated to the cyclone shelter which was constructed on the outskirts of Podampeta with World Bank funds after the 1999 super cyclone,” said Chelliga, a youngster.
About 10,000 fishermen belonging to Gopalpur, Haripur, Bandar, Baxipur, Kotavadha, Kontivada, Mohirpada of Ganjam block are now facing an uncertain future with livelihood becoming a matter of concern for them.
They don’t know how to salvage their boats.
“Our thrust is on restoration and relief work. Once it is completed, we will provide them assistance to revive fishing operations,” said Additional District Magistrate Sitanshu Rout.
A team of World Vision officials visited some of the worst-hit villages.
“There is a need to give them support to regain their confidence. We have to provide them food and shelter and help them to get back to fishing,” said World Vision national director Jayakumar Christian.
He told The Hindu that they would supplement the efforts of the Odisha government for rehabilitation and resettlement of the cyclone-affected fishermen.