Relief takes its time to come to Vizianagaram
Most of the government machinery and relief personnel concentrating on Vizag
Relief operations yet to reach in full scale to Vizianagaram, Srikakulam
Remote tribal hamlets of North Coastal Andhra facing the brunt
( P Ravi)
Today is already 6th day after the super cyclone Hudhud hits Visakhapatnam coast, leaving behind a trail of destruction. Even as the government machinery is taking up the relief operations and the chief Minister, himself, overseeing the day – day progress, logistics and rescue operation in person, the task looks daunting.
The city of Visakhapatnam is limping back to normalcy; yet, there is so much more to do. The telecommunications is not restored fully. And Naidu averred that the failure in restoring services early has impacted the relief operations. The three major service providers assured to speed up restoration. Bharti Airtel has already announced through a press release that their network to critical areas has been restored in the last 24 hours. Efforts are on to restore connectivity in the rest of the impacted areas. Airtel has also ensured inter-operator roaming has been configured with BSNL helping customers of both operators to make and receive calls. The towers that have been made operational are running on diesel power.
The power supply is going to be restored in the next 48 hours, says government. But the reality does not match. The power lines across the three districts of Visakhapatnam, Vizianagaram and Srikakulam are adversely affected and the broken towers of high voltage lines seems like a mammoth task to repair; even as the Power grid officials and state-level experts set shop in the city for the last few days.
However,the focus of the media and the government is evidently more concentrated on the city of Vizag, where the loss is severe with power outages, crash of communications, destruction to property, industries and shortage of daily commodities, the likes of which were never witnessed before. At the cost of sounding, insensitive, one cannot help but reflect if the mass outrage one has witnessed across the cross section of the society is due to the fact that one has not witnessed such a scale of destruction to an urban centre before, not in the remote past atleast.
Commenting on the cyclone, Chief Secretary IYR Krishna Rao said, “While 77 cyclones crossed the coast since 1891, Visakhapatnam district was hit only eight times and the city only once. In a 1,100 km long coast, the probability of cyclone hitting the city was 1/1000.” (The Hindu, October 17).
Even as the entire government machinery is working from Visakhapatnam, the other districts of Vizianagaram and Srikakulam are dealing with shortage of personnel to take care of the relief operations. The remote tribal hamlets too are facing the brunt of losing even a roof on their heads, with relief taking time to come their way. The scene at Vizianagaram is not much different from Vizag; the roads are strewn with uprooted trees, hoardings and electric poles. The trees that once adorned the bund of Pedda Cheruvu are now blocking the main road with none to remove them. The last few days when the roads were water logged, residents were not even able to open their doors, leave alone go out for getting essential commodities. It was not the government officials or rescue operation that saved them. It was the Sun that finally emerged on yesterday and the water that receded on its own accord that facilitated movement in the colonies of Vizianagaram. Drinking water and electricity, remain a problem.
The entire estimated loss is over 70,000 crore. The destruction has been on a mammoth scale and as they say Rome was not built in a day; it is definitely going to be quite a while before the city of destiny and the North Coastal districts of Andhra Pradesh get back on their feet. There needs to be a sense of urgency in expanding the scale of operations, in order to reach even the remotest parts of cyclone-affected areas.