A year after Fani,  Bhubaneswar comes back on track

Whie the city has moved on from the deluge, some targets are yet to be achieved and promises waiting to be fulfilled.
An aerial view of Bhubaneswar on Sunday. (Photo| EPS)
An aerial view of Bhubaneswar on Sunday. (Photo| EPS)

BHUBANESWAR: Amid coronavirus pandemic, Bhubaneswar woke up to the memory of cyclone Fani which had wreaked havoc in the State Capital and its adjoining coastal areas exactly a year ago.

The City bore the brunt of the storm that ripped through Puri and left a trail of devastation in the Capital before moving towards Cuttack. The Capital lost its green cover while Smart City infrastructure were shattered. A year later, the City has moved on though some targets are yet to be achieved and promises waiting to be fulfilled.

With the State Government and municipal corporation taking up restoration work on war-footing, the City has got back on track. However, there are people and stakeholders who are still struggling to receive help of the Government. Residents belonging to economically weaker sections and street vendors were worst affected and some of them yet to be compensated though Government had announced support for revival of their livelihood.

Seven months after the cyclone hit the city, Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation had come up in January a list of 11,348 street vendors affected by the storm for distribution of Rs 10,000 assistance. Many, however, complain that they have not been included in the list. The actual number of street vendors are more than what BMC shortlisted as the civic body in 2015-16 had conducted a survey which pegged the number of street vendors at 21,483, they said.

"A tree uprooted in the storm fell on my kiosk damaging it completely. Two months later, I spent around Rs 15,000 for its partial restoration. I have not received any Government assistance yet," said Prasant Biswal, a vendor at Vani Vihar.

Many industrial establishments and MSME units in Rasulgarh and Mancheswar continue to suffer. The units have been forced to bear the losses in the Fani-aftermath despite repeated requests to the Government and the Centre for cyclone rehabilitation loan with a lower interest rate for their revival.

BMC Commissioner Prem Chandra Chaudhary, however, said all measures were taken for restoration of infrastructure and livelihood of people. The City is now focusing more on building climate resilient infrastructure to tackle such natural events effectively in future, he added.

On the other hand, the City has got back the green cover and wears a new look. After Fani uprooted and damaged more than one lakh trees, City DFO AK Mishra said, around 9,000 trees were restored while 42,000 saplings were planted. Around 1.32 lakh saplings were distributed among residents free of cost for plantation. Despite all odds, they have been able to restore more than 50 per cent greenery of the City within a year, he claimed.

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The New Indian Express