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Cyclone Fani: Odisha tackled nature's fury well but more needs to be done
On 3rd May cyclone 'Fani' made landfall south of Puri as predicted by IMD. However, it wasn't expected that it would strike both Bhubaneswar and Cuttack so severely. I was in Cuttack during the 1999 super-cyclone. The intensity of 'Fani' was no less than the super cyclone of 1999 although 'Fani' lasted for around four hours where as the super cyclone had lasted for 36 hours. The destruction of Puri, Bhubaneswar and Cuttack (and in between rural, semi-urban pockets also) as severe as during 1999.

The difference is that Puri had remained unaffected during 1999. The government was fully prepared with 'zero-casualty' mission compared to the total unpreparedness of the government during the 1999 cyclone. People too were unaware back then about the scale of destruction. This time a proactive government evacuated around 1.2 million people from the worst affected and low laying areas. I think the target of zero casualties was achieved during the cyclone. The 30 odd casualties were after the cyclone was over when some people ventured in to destroyed areas without any safety arrangements.

Speed of restoration is also very fast. This size of destruction can't be restored overnight. But then the efforts of restoration, relief distributions are commendable. In 1999, it was end of October but this time it's May and the sun is very hot in Odisha during this time with the mercury crossing more than forty degrees in all areas. Lack of water, shadow, electricity and mobile network is really hurting people. But still, the people of Odisha are bravely facing all odds to return to normalcy. Every Odia knows that cyclone is a permanent event or say yearly event which nobody can prevent. Thus, it became routine to face the natures furry and struggle to recovery became a habit.

Odisha government got global appreciation for facing such a natural calamity. But then, I feel certain things need to be done to prevent post cyclone inconvenience. Andhra Pradesh and Odisha are two states that face dangerous cyclones every year. None can prevent cyclones. But cyclone resistant infrastructure can be built to minimize the damage. For example, all electric and other communication lines can be shifted underground about 100 km away from the coast line in Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, north Tamil Nadu and south West Bengal. In these states houses shouldn't be allowed to have thatched roofs or CGI roofs. Poor people should get financial assistance to have RCC roofs instead of thatched or tin sheets.

Building code for cyclone prone areas also must be changed. Many glass facades and windows broke in Bhubaneswar and Cuttack during Fani. Thus, use of such glass in residential building and commercial buildings must be banned or the design has to be approved by competent engineers. The mobile towers shouldn't be installed on any one's roof or near residential houses or buildings. Many houses collapsed due to towers falling down heavily on those houses.

Every natural calamity teaches us many lessons. The 1999 super cyclone taught us to remain prepared for Phailin, Hud hud, Titli and Fani very well. It's time to ensure that the destruction of infrastructure is minimized.

Hopefully both the state and Central governments will look in to this. Let's hope that  Odisha recovers from this natural disaster fast and well.

Editorial NOTE: This article is categorized under Opinion Section. The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of In case you have a opposing view, please click here to share the same in the comments section.
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