JAGATSINGHPUR: The forecast of cyclonic storm ‘Hudhud’ has brought back horrifying memories of Super Cyclone which devastated the district in 1999. With the district administration least prepared to meet the impending natural calamity, the people of coastal villages of the district are a scared lot.
After the Super Cyclone, nearly 593 cyclone shelters including 10 multipurpose shelters were set up in the district. But, most of the shelters are in a dilapidated condition. The roofs have developed cracks due to poor standard of work and the doors and windows are missing.
This part, many shelters lack basic facilities such as generators, VHFs, first aid kits and medicines. There are no facilities for elderly and pregnant women. Surprisingly, though the district comes under earthquake risk zone III, not a single cyclone shelter has been designed to resist earthquakes.
Nearly 150 villages of Kujang, Erasama and Balikuda blocks are situated within one km radius of the sea. However, the administration has not given it a thought to construct new cyclone shelters in the area.
After the cyclone, Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur had conducted a survey and suggested to establish another 122 cyclone shelters in seaside villages. But the suggestion is yet to be implemented by the State Government. Similarly, though 28 villages of the district have been identified as Tsunami prone area, warning centres are yet to be established.
The State Government had decided to construct new 36 cyclone shelters in several villages. On a priority basis, 14 cyclone shelters were to be constructed and funds for the purpose released. However, construction work of only 10 shelters is in progress allegedly due to lack of cooperation between district administration and Odisha State Disaster Management Authority (OSDMA).
Moreover, the post of District Emergency Officer and Block Development Officers in several blocks are lying vacant for the last six months thereby affecting mock drills and other related activities in the region.
When contacted, Sub-Collector Narahari Sethi claimed that the district administration has taken all steps and is prepared to meet any eventuality after receiving message from Special Relief Commissioner about the approaching cyclone. “All BDOs and Tehsildars have been asked to remain prepared to meet Hudhud,” he added.