Although the death toll Cyclone Phailin was lower than the 1999 supercyclone,the scale of damage and devastation may be much worse than previously thought. While close to 10,000 people died in the 1999 supercyclone compared to the 59 that lost their lives in 18 of the 30 districts hit by Phailin,two memorandums submitted to the Centre a few days ago pegged the total loss to the state at Rs 21,770.87 crore which,officials say,is huge considering that Orissas annual plan outlay for 2013-14 was only Rs 21,467 crore.
The loss is colossal. It is as bad if not worse than the 1999 supercyclone. It will take years for Orissa to recover its losses despite its GDP growth. What we are doing now is at a subsistence level, admitted Orissa special relief commissioner P K Mohapatra. To provide immediate assistance to the most-affected districts of Ganjam,Balasore and Puri,the state government has demanded Rs 5,832 crore from the National Disaster Response Fund (NDRF).
NGO workers,who are touring the affected districts have,however,said the calculated losses are too conservative and that real estimates could be over two and a half times more. While official estimates have said Rs 3,890 crore was needed for the 9.4 lakh houses that were damaged,the regional manager of Action Aid Debabrata Patra said that it works out to around Rs 41,000 per house. To build even a thatched roof in a village needs around 1 lakh considering the cost of material, he said.
Phailin left a long trail of destruction in the agrarian sector as well with crops damaged in over 12.4 lakh hectares. Our estimate is the damage is as bad as 1999 supercyclone when crops over 17.3 lakh hectare area were affected. Whatever we give to the farmer will not be enough, Director of Agriculture,R Sant Gopalan said.
In the power sector,infrastructure was the worst hit. The energy department estimated that 1756 feeders,42753 sub-stations,36885 km of LT line,4074 km of EHT Line,4.08 lakh electric poles and 93 EHT towers were damaged affecting 339 lakh customers.
But officials are unsure of how much money will actually come from the Centre. In 1999,Rs 825 crore was provided to the state against their demand of Rs 6,243.96 crore. The money from NDRF would be released after states demand makes a long bureaucratic tour of New Delhis corridors. It could take several months, said an official of revenue and disaster management department.