PURI: A week after Fani devastated Puri, relief is yet to reach the worst-affected people in many parts of the city. People rendered homeless and without food in various wards are still to be provided with immediate relief materials like flattened rice and other dried food or even polythene sheets to cover their blown roofs with.
On Thursday, hundreds of angry residents of Wards 5, 6 and 7 tried to meet the Collector Balwant Singh over irregularities in relief distribution. When they could not, they staged dharna outside his office leading to a tussle between the citizens and the cops. They alleged that most of the relief materials were being distributed in Penthakota, Baliapanda and Baliupar slums while people in other affected areas are being ignored.
What has added to the woes of Fani-hit victims throughout the district is the relief distribution process. Apparently, while rice and other relief materials are being distributed in offices of Block Development Officers, polythene and financial aid are provided in Tehsildar offices. Locals said the administration should make all the relief materials available at one place.
As per official reports, the coastal district requires 60,000 rolls of polythene sheets but only 25,000 rolls have been received by administration so far. Similarly, of the 60,000 new electricity poles that need to be installed in Puri for restoration of power, only 20,000 have reached. Officials said power supply resumption in Puri may take couple of weeks more.
If relief distribution and restoration works are moving at snail’s pace, the Puri Municipality has been extremely slow in cleaning up Fani debris from the narrow streets. Heaps of garbage can be seen at every corner of the town. An officer of the civic body said as there is no space in the existing dumping yard, no garbage can be lifted till the yard is emptied or a new space for dumping garbage is identified. Besides, in the absence of an elected civic council and lack of phone connectivity, it has become increasing difficult to carry out city cleaning operations effectively. At present, the Collector is the chairman of the civic body till a new council gets elected. So far, only some parts of the beach, the Collectorate area and VIP Road have been cleaned. With people getting restless over the slow pace of works, the Collector’s office has been put under tight security anticipating violence.
Meanwhile, road link from Puri to Bhubaneswar, Brahmagiri, Satapada and Konark have been restored and roads to almost all the blocks in the district have been opened for vehicular traffic. Efforts are on to connect all gram panchayats to hasten relief distribution. The PHED has started supply drinking water to all stand posts in the city while the water tanker service has been extended to all villages.
ECoR has began running a few trains from Puri though passenger buses are yet to begin operation.
The EVMs in the strong room are safe, officials said.