People take shelter during gusty winds ahead of the landfall of cyclone Fani, at Bhubaneswar railway station. (Source: PTI) 

Odisha Pegs Cyclone Fani Loss At Rs 12,000 Crore, Seeks Relaxation Of Norms

Seeking a relaxation in disaster assistance norms, the Odisha government estimated a tentative loss of Rs 12,000 crore due to cyclone Fani that killed at least 64 people and damaged more than 5 lakh dwelling units in the state's coastal districts.

The state government, which has launched massive restoration work in the cyclone-ravaged areas, in a preliminary report to a visiting inter-ministerial team, said an initial assessment has put the overall loss at approximately Rs 12,000 crore.

While the loss to public properties was worth Rs 5,175 crore, expenditure towards relief and response stands at Rs 6,767.56 crore, the report said.

"We have submitted a tentative loss figure to the central team. This amount may increase as the officials will undertake door-to-door survey to access the actual loss caused by the cyclone. The government will prepare a full report on the loss after the completion of the detailed survey," Special Relief Commissioner BP Sethi said.

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In its preliminary report, the state government has estimated the highest loss in the power sector at Rs 1,160 crore, while the loss in the panchayati raj and the drinking water department stands at Rs 587 crore.

"The loss shown in the preliminary report is purely tentative. It will go up as we get a detailed report," Chief Secretary AP Padhi said after a meeting with the central team, which wrapped up its three-day visit to the cyclone-hit areas.

Stating that there has been huge losses to public and private infrastructure in the calamity, Padhi said, "We have urged the central team to consider revising the norms of the National Disaster Response Force and the State Disaster Response Force so that the loss in the power sector can be covered." Padhi said while the NDRF and SDRF norms include assistance for loss due to the damage of 220 KV, 132 KV, 33 KV, 11 KV and low tension power supply, there was no provision for losses in the high tension power supply.

As many as 75 towers have been uprooted by the high velocity winds in Puri district alone and a huge investment is required to make them operational.

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Vivek Bharadwaj, Additional Secretary in the Union Home Ministry, who is heading the team, said: "There has been massive destruction to houses, hotels and livelihood means of the affected people. Puri has been severely hit in the cyclone." Noting that the central government has been assisting the cyclone-ravaged state and will continue to do so in restoration and rehabilitation works, Bharadwaj said there is a need to further strengthen the MGNREGA scheme in order to provide livelihood means to the affected people.

He said there has been a substantial loss to betel vines and coconut plantations.

"Keeping in view the gravity of the devastation, the Odisha government's action in providing relief and other assistance to the affected people is praiseworthy," Bharadwaj said, adding that people have been provided with relief immediately after the cyclone.

"The people have been given rice, cash and tarpaulin sheets," he said.

The 11-member central team visited some of the worst-affected areas in Puri, Khurda and Cuttack districts, besides the Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation region, during its visit.

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