Hundreds of residents of Binova Nagar slum staged a protest at Talabania in Puri, blocking vehicles. As a result, trucks with relief materials were stranded for hours. Lathi-wielding policemen dispersed the protestors.
The was visible anger on the streets of Puri on Tuesday with thousands of cyclone-affected people struggling to get food and water four days after cyclone Fani hit the district.
Although the Odisha government had said that cooked food was being provided to those who took shelter in different buildings including multi-purpose cyclone shelters, community kitchens opened at most slum areas only on Tuesday.
“We know this is not the way to register our grievance. But what can one do when small children remain starving? The food material stocked by us was damaged in the cyclone and rain.
Despite informing the district administration many times, nobody came to our rescue,” said Nilakatha Nayak, a resident of Binova Nagar. The residents of the locality protested twice on Tuesday.
The District Collector’s official premises witnessed similar scenes. Over 30 women picketed the main gate. “Our Jagannath Basti is just four kilometres away from the Collector’s office, but relief material is yet to reach us.
What can one do with 260 grams of flattened rice and 100 grams of jaggery for a five-member family,” Sudasta Behera, a resident of Jagannath Basti, said.
The residents were also protesting the government’s move to provide additional 50 kg rice and ₹2,000 only to families covered by the food security programme in Puri and Khurdha districts.
Even after PM Modi visit both centre and state government is aloof. It is as if Fani has not affected people who do not have ration cards,” said Hemant Chandra Mohanty of Jagannath Basti.
Daily wagers were out of cash as they were confined to their houses, taking care of families. If the government provides food for a week, I could go out and arrange to rebuild my thatched house,” said Shankar Swain, a resident of Dhobakhol in Talabania area.
Balwant Singh, who took charge of the district collector of Puri on Tuesday, admitted the magnitude of damage was massive. He was appointed district collector of Puri as mobilization for relief and restoration could not pick the pace as was expected.
“My focus would be to streamline relief operation. Restoration works would be taken up simultaneously, said Mr. Singh.