Joint centre-state efforts saved lives in Odisha

Bhubaneswar, Oct 20 (IANS) Joint efforts by the state and central governments saved maximum lives during the country's fiercest cyclone that hit the Odisha coast Oct 12, union Home Secretary Anil Goswami said Sunday.

"We were successful in the efforts launched jointly by the state and central governments," Goswami told reporters after reviewing the situation in the worst cyclone-hit Ganjam district.

"For the first time, it was found that despite such a big disaster, we managed to save maximum lives. Now our joint efforts would be to reduce the difficulties of the people," he said.

Goswami also praised all the officials for successfully handling the disaster and said, "they deserve credit".

The union home secretary was on a one-day visit for an on-the-spot assessment of the damage caused by cyclone Phailin and subsequent floods.

He visited Ganjam district along with senior state officials, and spent several hours there, after arriving at the Biju Patnaik Airport here Sunday morning.

He also visited some of the worst affected areas, a senior district official told IANS.

He later held discussions with top state officials in state capital Bhubaneswar on the ongoing relief and restoration work in the cyclone- and flood-hit districts before leaving for Delhi.

Although he was to visit the worst flood-hit district of Balasore, the trip was cancelled on account of adverse weather.

State Chief Secretary J.K. Mohapatra submitted a memorandum on behalf of the state government in which the Odisha government estimated the damage due to cyclone and subsequent floods at about Rs.4,242 crore, and sought central help.

The severe tropical cyclone in the Bay of Bengal which made landfall Oct 12 night near Gopalpur in Odisha's Ganjam district has left behind a trail of destruction in several coastal districts of the state.

Although damage to properties was estimated at several crore rupees, the loss of lives was minimal, compared to the 1999 super cyclone that left over 10,000 dead.

The toll from the latest cyclone and flooding rose to 44, as the government Wednesday confirmed eight more deaths due to floods.

The low casualty figures were due to large-scale evacuation before the cyclone struck the land.

About 1.2 crore people in 17 districts of the state have been affected by the cyclone and subsequent floods, according to government data.

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