The State Disaster Preparedness Day and National Day for Disaster Reduction are observed every year on October 29, ever since the super cyclone struck the State in 1999.
Thirteen years down the line, little has been done to improve the condition of the poor villagers affected by the tidal waves. The State Government and district administration have been organising rallies, functions and programmes every year to mark the day, but have virtually forgotten the victims.
People of at least 150 villages are still residing within a km radius of the sea.
With the cyclone shelters and 10 multipurpose cyclone shelters built in the district are in a bad shape, the people in the coastal villages of Erasama, Kujang and Balikuda blocks even today find themselves unsafe.
After super cyclone, nearly 593 cyclone shelters, including 10 multi-purpose ones, were built. Many of them have developed cracks leaving the roofs leaking and the damaged doors and windows providing little security. Many of these 593 cyclone shelters do not have basic infrastructure like generators, VHFs, first-aid kits and medicines. Moreover, these shelters are situated far from the villages in urban areas. Rescue and relief operations are also affected during torrential rain in the absence of powerboats and experienced persons.
Realising the situation, Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur, conducted a survey and recommended another 122 cyclone shelters in villages but these are yet to come up.
Super cyclone apart, the Geographical Information System, New Delhi, had identified 28 villages along the 63-km coastline of the district as tsunami-prone, but these have no warning centres. Hundreds of fishermen living along the coast are not aware of the fickle weather conditions.
More than 1,000 country-boats have been readied for rescue and relief operations, but the boats have no VHFs, life jackets and equipment to monitor weather during crisis period.
The decision to set up HAM clubs under the Disaster Risk Management Programme (DRM) at Kujang, Erasma and Balikuda remain on paper with not a single HAM club established as
An officer of the United Nations Development Programme said only one HAM club had been established at the district headquarters while the disaster-prone areas have been ignored. Though 17 experts have been issued HAM radio licence to operate, only one operator has been pressed into service.
Deputy Collector (Emergency) Rasmiranjan Das said the Disaster Risk Management has been a failure at village level due to non-cooperation of villagers. To set things right measures have been taken to conduct mock drill to create awareness among the villagers.