Bhubaneswar, October 17: With flood waters receding in five districts, the Odisha government on Thursday stepped up relief and restoration work as the death toll rose to 38 with the recovery of two bodies.
The State government also updated the number of affected persons in the cyclone and floods at 1.23 crore and the number of disaster-hit villages in 17 districts to 18,117.
The floods substantially subsided in five districts, but two blocks of Baliapal and Bhogarai in Balasore district were still facing a problem, Special Relief Commissioner (SRC) P.K. Mohapatra told reporters in Bhubaneswar.
“We hope the water will recede from Bhogarai and Baliapal blocks soon,” he said.
The two bodies were recovered at Kendrapara and Puri, Mr. Mohapatra said.
Stating that Ganjam, Balasore and Mayurbhanj were identified as the worst cyclone-flood hit districts in the State, Revenue and Disaster Management minister S.N. Patro said that relief and restoration was the focus of the government now.
With eight lakh families hit by the cyclone in Ganjam, he said that 494 relief centres were being opened in the district from Thursday.
Relief would also be provided from Thursday in Kendrapara and Jagatsinghpur districts, he said.
Questioned about reports that relief was unavailable, the Minister said “So far 91,000 families in Ganjam district have been provided 50 kg of rice and Rs 500 in cash from 310 centres.”
The Minister said, families living in very severely affected villages were entitled to 50 kg of rice, Rs. 500 in cash for dal and a polythene sheet.
Those in severely affected villages would get 25 kg rice and Rs. 300 for dal.
Most of the affected persons have left for home, Mr. Patro said while 23,000 people were in still in relief camps in Balasore district and 15,000 people in Mayurbhanj district, while in Ganjam district there were only 1610 people.
Stating that relief was being provided as per the 2011 census data and National Population Register, he said, “There is no need of ration card or any other identification to avail relief.”
Admitting that the pace of work by government officials had slowed after successfully evacuating people before the cyclone, Mr. Patro said “The officials are requested to show seriousness and take active role in relief and restoration.”
He warned that officials guilty of dereliction of duty would be severely dealt with and face suspension and action under Essential Services Maintenance Act).
“Action will be taken against officials if found not cooperating with the administration in relief and restoration work,” he said.
On incidents of loot of relief materials, Mr. Patro said that the police have been directed to take action.
People disrupting movement of relief materials through road blockades and attacking people restoring power would be punished, the minister said.
The cyclone that made landfall near Gopalpur on Saturday night claimed 21 lives, while 17 others perished in subsequent floods.