Restoration work picks up in cyclone-hit Odisha

Relief and restoration work in cyclone-ravaged coastal Odisha has gained pace, and Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik said government offices in the five severely affected districts will remain open during the weekend.

The state government has been able to ensure supply of drinking water in most parts of the 14 districts, including Puri and Khurda, affected in cyclone 'Fani', officials said.

However, power supply is still to be restored as 1.56 lakh electric poles were either uprooted or severely damaged in the cyclone. Of them, 30,000 electric poles were damaged in Bhubaneswar.

While about 50 per cent of Bhubaneswar residents have been provided power connection, entire Puri district continues to remain in darkness.

The state government claimed that it would be able to fully restore power in Bhubaneswar by May 12 while a part of Puri town may get electricity by the same time.

Lack of electricity is adding to the misery of the people who have to bear the mid-summer heat.

"We have engaged skilled manpower both in Puri and Khurda districts for speedy restoration of power. However, the process is taking time due to the massive devastation caused to the power infrastructure," said Odisha Energy Secretary Hemant Sharma.

Exactly a week ago, the 'extremely severe' cyclone Fani made its landfall near Puri affecting more than 1.5 crore people in 14 districts and destroying all power infrastructure and telecommunication.

A situation report released Friday by the special relief commissioner's office said at least 41 people were killed in the calamity and 5.08 lakh houses were damaged.