Kathmandu: For four days, Nayana Sethi of Penthapala village in Odisha’s Kendrapara District has often gazed down the road, hoping to see her husband, Jaggu Sethi, walk in. He was a plumber in Nepal when the earthquake struck. His mobile phone has not been reachable, and none of his friends have been able to give her a clear picture if he is well.
“We have not been able to establish any contact with my husband, Jaggu Sethi. We tried talking to his friends in Nepal, but they can’t reach him either. Before the earthquake, he used to call every day. But now, we do not have any information about him,” says Ms Sethi. “My children keep asking me why their father is not calling. I have nothing to tell them,” she adds, choking up.
Similar concerns hand thick over a number of other households around Penthapala, which have at least one member of their family in Nepal. According to data released by the Special Relief Commissioner of Odisha, around 335 from the state, most of them plumbers, are stuck in earthquake-hit Nepal. While some of them have made contact with their families to let them know they are safe, others remain untraced.
“Some of the stranded plumbers from our village had tried to board one of the Indian Air Force aircraft. But there were long queues at the airport, and they were unable to. Now, they are trying to return to India by road,” said Kailash Sethi, the headman of Penthapala village.
He adds that some of the men are indeed on the way back, and that a clear picture about the others would only emerge only as some of them reach home.
Senior Biju Janata Dal (BJD) leader Baijayant Panda, the local MP, had tweeted that he had taken up the matter with the Ministry of External Affairs. After this, the Kendrapara District administration compiled a list of residents who were in Nepal and forwarded it to the state government, and has been able to little else.