People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


No. 44

November 03, 2013




On Devastating Effects of Cyclone & Flood


Dusmanta Das


THE state of Odisha recently faced yet another severe cyclone ‘Phailin’ on October 12, 2013, followed by severe floods --- after a gap of 14 years from the super cyclone which took place in 1999.


Due to the combined efforts --- almost accurate reading of the Indian Meteorological Bureau about the movement of the cyclone, role of media in conveying the message to the people, evacuation steps taken by the government, and the people’s last experience of the effects of earlier super cyclone --- the loss of life was greatly minimised. Still about 100 persons died and more than 2,000 animals perished due to cyclone and flood.


The cyclone, subsequent flood due to depression and thereafter continuous rains due to yet another bout of low pressure affected 18 out of 30 districts in the state. While Ganjam and Puri districts were worst affected by the cyclone, Balasore and Mayurbhanja were worst hit by the floods. Apart from the loss of lives as mentioned above, the cyclone and subsequent flood has affected all the 151 blocks, 2015 panchayats, 18,374 villages and 44 towns in the said 18 districts. All the crops --- foodgrains, vegetables and sugarcane, cashew, coconut and banana etc --- were completely damaged over an area of 25 lakh acres. While 26 lakhs of trees were uprooted, four lakh houses and 5,820 were damaged. The Mayurbhanja District Hospital at Baripada remained submerged under four feet high water for days together. A total 1.72 crore people were affected. The total loss is estimated at about Rs 20,000 crore. People have lost their homes, belongings, life time savings and also their means of livelihood. Some 92 high tension electric towers and several BSNL towers were uprooted causing serious damage to power supply and phone connections.


Although relief operations were started by the state government, they are far from the requirement. A large number of affected people had not received any relief even after 20 days of the calamity. No drinking water or kerosene is available in vast affected areas. Water borne and viral diseases have started in many areas. Healthcare has been affected due to shortage of doctors and medicines. The state government’s relief amount and subsidies for the affected people on various counts are very meagre. An example is the declaration of subsidy to farmers at Rs 800 to Rs 3,600 per acre. People did not receive even polythene sheets to cover their heads when the incessant rains due to depression following the floods worsened the situation. The BJD government of the state and the Congress party in the state have only been trying to put the blame on the central and the state government respectively for the failure. But the centre’s apathy towards this severe calamity is clear. It is yet to remit any financial aid to the state to effect such a huge relief and rehabilitation work.




Immediately after getting the news of Phailin, the state committee of the CPI(M) directed its district units to be in readiness to help in the evacuation and rescue programme. It also directed them to collect relief funds for the affected people. CPI(M) state secretary Janardan Pati moved on the very next day of cyclone to Ganjam district. He toured the affected areas along with state secretariat member Ali Patnaik and others. Polit Bureau member Suryakanta Mishra and state secretariat member Jagannath Mishra visited the severely affected Puri district. Basudeb Acharia, CPI(M) leader in Lok Sabha, visited various places in Ganjam district along with secretariat members Santosh Das, Ali Patnaik, Suresh Panigrahy and state committee members Labodar Nayak, Abhiram Behera, Tapasi Praharaj and district level leaders. Santosh Das and Sisir Hui visited Balasore, Mayurbhanj, Jajpur and Bhadrak districts. Jagannath Mishra visited Puri and Gajapati districts. Abhiram Behera, who is also a Zilla Parishad member, participated in the rescue and  relief operations.


CPI(M) committees have been running relief operations in Ganjam, Balasore and Khurdha districts. Collection of funds and relief materials is going on in other districts, particularly in urban areas.


A delegation of the state committee met the governor and submitted a memorandum on relief and rehabilitation. Another delegation later met the chief secretary, revenue commissioner and special relief commissioner on October 28


The CPI(M) state committee has put forward the following demands before the central and state governments:


1) The devastation due to Phailin must be declared a national calamity and the central government should bear the lion’s share of the responsibilities of relief, rehabilitation and reconstruction. The central government should send a full-fledged team to assess the extent of loss and, pending finalisation of central assistance, an interim assistance of Rs 1000 crore must be given to the state.


2) Relief operations should continue till the people return to their homes. Essential commodities like wheat, rice, edible oil, kerosene, vegetables, medicines, drinking water, matchboxes etc must be provided to all the affected people through the public distribution system. For this, special cards may be issued as no ration cards have been issued in the state since 1994 and no revision of BPL card has taken place since 1997. Doctors’ teams with medicines should go to the affected villages immediately.


3) Families rendered homeless must be provided a house at the cost of Rs one lakh at least, with 90 per cent of the cost borne by the central government. 


4) Peasants must be provided a minimum compensation of Rs 12,000 per acre. All agricultural loans, both principal and interest, must be completely waived for 2013-14.  For the rabi crops, farmers must be provided with free inputs and interest free loans.


5) To check the emigration of workers from the state, sufficient NREGA work must be provided with a minimum daily wage of Rs 250.


6) People regularly facing tidal waves must be shifted to areas where safe settlement is possible.


7) Self-employed people including artisans must be provided with interest free loans for a revival of their trades.


8) All the damaged educational institutions should be constructed as pacca houses. Tuition fee, course fee and examination fee of all students from primary to university level must be exempted for both government and private schools. Students should be supplied with textbooks and study equipments.


9) Relief and rehabilitation must be done without any political discrimination. To supervise it, all-party committees must be formed from the state to the village level.


10) Drastic action must be taken against black-marketers. Persons involved in corruption must be booked immediately, irrespective of their position or political affiliation.


The Odisha state committee of the CPI(M), in its meeting on October 25, decided to mobilise the people on the issues mentioned above and organise local level demonstrations, dharnas etc, followed by a state level rally on November 20, 2013.