Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, Oct 11:
Ahead of the landfall of Cyclone Hudhud near Vishakhapatnam in neighbouring Andhra Pradesh sometime tomorrow forenoon, a total of 7,360 persons have been evacuated from their homes to safer places by this evening, the Odisha government said today.
“We have evacuated 7,360 people, including 357 members of the Bonda tribe in Malkangiri by afternoon and the process is continuing. Evacuation will be complete by tomorrow noon,” Chief Secretary G C Pati told reporters here this evening.
The district administrations in Malkangiri, Koraput, Rayagada, Nabarangpur, Ganjam, Gajapati, Kandhamal and Kalahandi are undertaking evacuation to ensure “zero casualty”, he said adding the maximum number of people (about 5, 000), have been evacuated in Ganjam district.
A total of 26 teams – 16 of NDRF and 10 teams of ODRF – each with 40 personnel have already been deployed in vulnerable places for rescue work, the Chief Secretary said. “We have been assured by the Centre that army teams will be ready at Raipur in Chhattisgarh and five choppers at Kalaikunda in West Bengal for our call.
Meanwhile, the Malkangiri district administration is finding it tough to convince the Bonda tribals to leave their houses on the Bonda hills, expected to be among the worst hit areas in the path of the cyclone, and come to shelters set up by it. Most Bonda tribals never come down from their abode atop the hill in their lifetime.
The administration plans to evacuate at least 2, 000 of the 7, 000 Bonda tribals who inhabit the Bonda hills, who live in unsafe kutcha houses.
The administration is using the services of Dambaru Sisa, Chitrakonda MLA, who is himself a member of the Bonda community, in trying to convince them.
The 357 Bondas who did agree to evacuation are being sheltered at two gram panchayat buildings, at Andrahal and Mudulipada. This apart, three permanent school buildings are also ready to accommodate them, sources informed.
Arrangements have been made to run free kitchens to provide cooked food to the evacuated tribals at the centres set up to shelter them, the sources added.
“It is essential to evacuate the Bondas as the hills are located about 4,000 feet above sea level and are expected to be pounded by very heavy rains and hit by landslides due to the very severe cyclonic storm,” Special Relief Commissioner P K Mohapatra said.
District administrations have also evacuated people from low lying areas in Khordha, Kendrapara, Ganjam and Koraput districts.
Evacuations have begun in Ganja, Rangeilunda and Purushottampur blocks as well as in low lying areas of Brahmapur city in Ganjam district, Jeypore municipality apart from areas under Balugaon NAC along the Chilika coast and Narayanpatna block in Koraput district.
About 180 people were evacuated from the Satabhaya panchayat in Kendrapara district, which is perilously close to the sea, and shifted to the cyclone shelter at Okilapal, sources in the Kendrapara district administration said.