Reported by Chinmaya Dehury/Edited by Sandeep Sahu
Bhubaneswar, Oct 10:
Even as a severe cyclonic storm is expected to hit northern Andhra Pradesh and south coastal Odisha around Saturday midnight, panicky people in the state are crowding shops, convenience stores and petrol pumps in a desperate attempt to stock adequate quantities of essential commodities before the storm hits the landmass.
With unscrupulous traders trying to cash in on the sudden rush, the prices of a host of household items have skyrocketed in the last 48 hours. Some essential items, candles for example, have simply vanished from the shelves of shops.
The price of potato which was available for Rs 12 a kg two days ago has shot up to Rs 35 -40 a kg.
Bhindi is now Rs 32 a kg, while it is Rs 55 a kg for onion. Prices for tomato has shot up from Rs 20 to Rs 30 a kg and beans are selling at Rs 50 a kg.
With the memory of the killer 1999 Super Cyclone still fresh in their minds, people don’t want to take any chances and have resorted to panic buying of items like grocery, vegetables, candles, match boxes, batteries and fuel.
“We saw some unusual rush for buying vegetables, milk and candles in bulk quantities. While vegetable supply has already been hit hard due to the ongoing strike in Andhra Pradesh over the bifurcation of the state, their prices have gone through the roof in the last two days,” said Gadadhar Swain, general secretary of the Unit-I market.
He said there is an artificial shortage of vegetables in the state in the wake of the fear of the impending cyclone in the minds of the people.
Gas stations/petrol bunks also witnessed heavy rush with vehicle owners making sure they all had a full tank. People were also seen making a beeline at ATM counters and topping up of their mobile phones with enough talk time. The fact that the cash withdrawn and the enhanced talk time would be rendered useless if the cyclone turns out to be even half as severe as the one in 1999 has failed to deter them.
Many say there is nothing wrong in being cautious. “As we have experienced before, we should be very careful during this time. The 1999 super cyclone was a virtual horror show. So, we don’t want to leave anything to fate this time,” said Raju Sahu, a resident of the capital city.
Meanwhile, Special Relief Commissioner P K Mohapatra said that the authorities were asked to stock up on food and relief materials at cyclone shelters for the people likely to be affected by the storm.
The Odisha government has cancelled the Puja holidays of government officials and ordered deployment of Odisha Disaster Rapid Action Force (ODRAF) in the 14 coastal districts likely to be affected. Fishermen have been asked not to venture into the Bay of Bengal and those at sea along north Andhra Pradesh and West Bengal have been advised to return to the coast forthwith.
The storm moving at 13 km per hour would cross north Andhra Pradesh and Odisha with a sustained wind speed of 175-185 km by Saturday night, triggering heavy rain. On Saturday night in the form of super cyclone it will cross between Andhra and Paradip.