Remembering The Super-Cyclone That Ravaged Coastal Orissa in October 1999

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A decade has passed after the 1999 super-cyclone ravaged the coastal belt of Orissa. I still remember the horrific day while I was spending vacation with my family in my village. Located approximately ten kilometers from the coast, my place suffered direct impact of the super-cyclone. It led to a series of destruction and miseries to the people in the coastal Orissa, and inked a question mark on the future of millions of people residing. Thousands of people died and more that fifteen million people were affected by this killer storm of unprecedented magnitude.

Past a decade, we have still not learnt about an integrated plan of development in the region. Following the calamity, it became a hot debate about rehabilitating the affected people and to bring about an overall development plan for the region. As months went by, everybody gradually forgot about it except a few things like establishing district grain stores and having concrete structures in villages with the help of other state governments and NGOs (that would be used as cyclone shelters in future).

The economy of the region is in a miserable state. In spite of large stretch of land available for paddy and other corps, the process of splitting land through inheritance has reduced the possibility of large-scale farming. In fact, farmer class have shown a significant level of outflux from the region in the search of livelihood and have migrated to industrial hubs in the other states. Major industrial projects in the region like Posco have shown slow progress due to blind opposition by sections of local population and lack of proper rehabilitation policy of the government.

The communication infrastructure is in bad shape. The roadways are grossly inadequate for increasing demand and are broken at many places. Rivers are being systematically killed, thus making waterways in the region null and void. Vast coast is largely inaccessible to general public and is yet to be exploited.

Healthcare is far from satisfactory. There is a need to draw a comprehensive plan of development in the coastal region with proper infrastructure.

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