Deathly Lull After The Storm

Anger is the overwhelming sentiment in the cyclone-hit districts of Orissa. Anger against the government for having failed to reach the area with any relief. No one has been spared. Union ministers who managed to land in the worst-hit Paradip port town got mobbed. At least two journalist teams were robbed of cash and were roughed up. The rage was more palpable among the people precisely because journalists reached areas where government agencies should have beaten them to. “If you all can reach us, why can’t the officials?” asks Niranjan Routrai at Tirtal.

It is a valid question. Four days after the super-cyclone hit Orissa, food, potable water and building material are nowhere in sight. Every time an Indian Air Force (IAF) helicopter drops food, there is a murderous rush to grab the packets. Despair is driving many rural people to loot trucks passing through National Highways 5 and 6. The cyclone has come and gone but the devastation it has left behind has benumbed the administration. Any attempt at rehabilitation and reconstruction to bring back even a semblance of normalcy to the 10 worst-affected districts would be a Herculean task. A cursory look at the figures is enough to indicate that: