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Six days later, power supply yet to be restored

Santosh Patnaik
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Generators selling at a premium and stiff rental charged for sets taken on hire

The people of Ganjam district, which bore the brunt of cyclone Phailin, spent the sixth consecutive day without power on Wednesday.

Generators are being sold at a premium and a hefty rental is being charged for those taken on hire. The 20 Internet centres have been closed due to breakdown in telecom service.

“I am not getting net connection ever since the cyclone struck, despite having a 3G connection at home,” Akash Choudhury, a university student said. For charging cellphones, shopkeepers and hotels are demanding Rs. 20 per hour.

With power restoration in coastal areas appearing to be a mammoth task, the Odisha government has decided to mobilise men and material from other States. Minister for Panchayati Raj Kalpataru Das, overseeing relief and rehabilitation, pointed out that after successfully evacuating 9 lakh people from the coastal areas they could minimise loss to human life. “Super Cyclone of 1999 claimed 20,000 lives and we have been able to minimise it to 21, which is a creditable achievement,” he said.

“Our immediate task is to restore drinking water and power supply. Gensets are being arranged to enable civic authorities of Berhampur, Chhatrapur, Gopalpur and Purushottampur to restart drinking water on a priority,” he told The Hindu .

Following allegations of pilferage of relief material, the government has decided to give affected families a 50 kg rice bag and Rs. 500 to buy other essentials.

Replacement of boats and nets would be done after enumeration. House building assistance would be provided as per government guidelines.

Damage to crop and fruit bearing trees would be assessed after the Centre deputed special teams, the Minister said.

There was no shortage of relief material and teams have been formed to oversee their distribution, Additional District Magistrate S. Rout said.

According to preliminary estimates, the damage to power installations, roads, private properties and industries such as Gopalpur Ports Limited and Indian Rare Earths Limited was about Rs. 10,000 crore, a senior government official said.

Vice Chairman of the National Disaster Management Authority Marri Sasidhar Reddy visited the affected areas in Ganjam district.

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