Bhubaneswar: The geo-climatic condition of Odisha induces occurrences of natural disasters in almost every year. And no one can stop a natural disaster. However, its impacts can be lessened and lives can be saved with proper planning, coordination and strong administration. This is what Odisha under the leadership of Naveen Patnaik proved time and again.
Odisha is now truly a role model for the rest of the world for its effective disaster management mechanism. A good example of it is the Odisha Government’s brave face during the cyclone Fani.
With wind speeds of over 200 kmph, Fani was one of the rarest of rare summer cyclones – the first one in 43 years to hit Odisha and one of the three to hit in the last 150 years. The scale of the damage and loss of lives supposed to be caused by the devastating Fani could have been unthinkable. But the Odisha Government under the leadership of Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik managed the disaster so efficiently that large scale damages have been successfully averted.
Compared to the 1999 super cyclone in which more than 10,000 people were killed, the casualties in subsequent natural calamities like Phailin, Hudhud and Titli were considerably minimal. And time also in the face of severe cyclonic storm Fani, the state administration has successfully managed to keep the death toll at a minimum.
How Odisha Government Successfully Handled Fani
It seemed to be a herculean task to evacuate a record 1.2 million vulnerable people in less than 24 hours. In fact, till 24 hours of landfall one was not sure about the trajectory it was going to take because of the predictions of different agencies. The Odisha Government prepared itself to face all possible eventualities.
Due to proper planning, preparedness and continuous capacity building for the past 19 years, the Odisha Government carried out one of the biggest human evacuations in history – a record 1.2 million people were evacuated in 24 hours including 3.2 lakh from Ganjam and 1.3 lakh people from Puri. More than 7000 kitchens catering to 9000 shelters were made functional overnight.
This massive exercise involved more than 45,000 volunteers, 3 million targeted messages, 2000 emergency workers, youth clubs and other civil society organizations, ODRAF, NDRF, PRI agencies, along with 1 lakh officials working round the clock.
In addition to it, empowering the community through right information in real-time has been a big game-changer.
Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik personally reviewed the entire exercise with district collectors and secretaries of different departments.
“Every life is precious for us, there is no need to panic. Have patience and cooperate with the state government”. This is the message that Naveen conveyed to the people just the day before the devastating Fani and his goverment has worked accordingly to once again won the confidence of the people.
Praise for Odisha Government
The successfully handling of Cyclone Fani earned praise for the Odisha government from global media and experts across the world.
In its report ‘How Do You Save a Million People From a Cyclone? Ask a Poor State in India’, the New York Times showered praise on the Odisha administration for its successful handling of cyclone Fani which is being called the worst in more than 20 years.
“Government authorities in Odisha, along India’s eastern flank, hardly stood still. To warn people of what was coming, they deployed everything they had: 2.6 million text messages, 43,000 volunteers, nearly 1,000 emergency workers, television commercials, coastal sirens, buses, police officers, and public address systems blaring the same message on a loop, in local language, in very clear terms: ‘A cyclone is coming. Get to the shelters’, ” the report said.
The UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (ODRR) also praised the government’s zero casualty” policy for cyclones and the pinpoint accuracy of the India Meteorological Department’s (IMD) early warning system have helped reduce the possibility of deaths from cyclone Fani.
Odisha is now truly a role model in disaster preparedness and an example for the rest of the world.