Visakhapatnam found its feet and spirit back after spending two days without water and fuel in the aftermath of cyclone Hudhud that hit the eastern coast of Andhra Pradesh on Sunday evening.
With water supply being restored and diesel available to run generators at homes and plenty of petrol for the vehicles, the city rediscovered its happy-go-lucky spirit back as thousand of people thronged the beach. It turned out to be a picnic for all.
The Beach Road and the R K Beach were choked with people since late Wednesday afternoon.
With no power supply, it was a holiday of sorts for everyone, except the government employees who were engaged in the relief work. “No office, no work. No power and no TV. Fortunately, we got petrol, so we came to beach for fun,’’ said Satish Rao, a bank employee, accompanied with his friends.
The power supply was restored in certain areas on Wednesday evening. Energy Secretary Ajay Jain said power supply was restored to all hospitals, drinking water supply facilities, and railways. Parts of Vizianagaram and Srikakulam will get power within next 48 hours, he said.
Learning its lessons from the damages, the electricity department is now planning to lay underground power cable network for Visakhapatnam city as a long-term measure. This could cost up to Rs 600 crores.
Even as water supply got resumed Wednesday morning, the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation stationed water tankers everywhere in the city in case some areas did not get water. After a warning from Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu, hundreds of workers descended on the streets to clear fallen trees and debris. Mobile phone services were restored partially.
Chandrababu Naidu works from bus, announces free rations for all
People in Hudhud-hit districts of Andhra Pradesh from Thursday would get free supply of essential food items from fair price shops and PDS outlets, Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu said on Wednesday.
The state government has also sent 1.5 lakh kg vegetables to local markets to bring down prices in the cyclone-affected areas.
Each relief packet — to be made available at fair price shops and PDS outlets — would contain one kg rice, dal, oil, salt and chilli power.
“The arrangement has been made for six to eight lakh affected families in Visakhapatnam, Vizianagaram, and Srikakulam. It is free. The cyclone has affected poor and rich alike and everyone who need these essential supplies is welcome to take it from the fair price shops,” Naidu told The Indian Express before he left for tribals areas of Aaraku and Paderu.
The CM, who himself is sleeping in a modified bus parked at Visakhapatnam District Collectorate since Monday morning, said: “I will not return to Hyderabad till normalcy is restored and the last affected person is taken care of”. He on Wednesday toured Visakhapatnam rural, Vizianagram and Srikakulam districts.
Naidu said, “I have told police to arrest any government official who shows up at my office just to make a courtesy call. They should be out in the field, working. When I am touring affected areas if any government officer or his vehicle joins my convoy unnecessarily, police will seize it.”
Besides resuming water supply, 200 tankers gave drinking water to people in the city.
“The delay in restoring power supply is because we want to ensure that the restored poles do not trip,” Naidu said. Despite Visakhapatnam and other districts going without power for 72 hours, the government has managed to supply water, he added.
Coastline stripped off its green cover
The north Andhra coast has been completely stripped off its greenery. The once scenic coastline now looks desolate and barren. Lakhs of trees — including teak, cashew, coconut, eucalyptus, palm, neem and other species — were uprooted due to the 200-km per hour winds that accompanied cyclone Hudhud. “We have lost 99 per cent green cover on the north Andhra coast,” said Andhra University Vice-Chancellor G S N Raju.
Lamenting that over 5,000 trees in the 600-acre AU campus had been uprooted, he said, “The university campus was the greenest place in this city. Some of the trees here were 40 to 50 years old. But not a single tree stands today. Across the city, thousands of trees have fallen. I don’t think in my lifetime we will see such greenery again,” Raju said.
Civic authorities say at least 80 per cent of city’s green cover spread over 600 sq km is gone.The beautiful and scenic Kailashgiri, a hill overlooking the Bay of Bengal, developed into a famous tourist spot, has also been destroyed. A favoured spot for film shooting, the hillside is now littered with uprooted trees. “It has turned into a desert overnight. All the beauty is gone,” a guard who was stopping people from going uphill said. The beautiful Rushikonda Hills and Aaraku Valley have also turned into a barren stretch.
Officials said all trees had been unprooted in the Vizag Steel Plant and township area which reportedly had 50 lakh trees. Thousands of birds have perished, and according to officials without any trees left, birds would continue to die daily.