Fani aftermath: Bhubaneswar battles water, power crises

Sampad Patnaik
A protest in Puri against late arrival of relief materials on Sunday. (Express photo by Partha Paul)

Without power and telecom connectivity since Friday, Bhubaneswar residents on Sunday had to face a new problem - water shortage in a searing summer.

By morning, the water in overhead tanks ran out. People were scouring the city for hand pumps and water tankers to fill up their bottles as temperatures reached 37 degrees Celsius between 12 and 3 PM.

Chief Secretary Aditya Padhi admitted earlier in the day that only 40 per cent of the city had water supply and promised to increase it to 70 per cent by evening. However, houses and highrises may not be able to get water till power supply is restored. "Without power, we have no way to run the motor," said Kuni Sahoo, a resident of the Sastri Nagar.

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The problems in highrises, in gated residential complexes, are even more acute. When residents sourced water, they had to carry it up, sometimes to the tenth or fourteenth floor. "Lifts are out of order even though generators are working. Most generators are not supporting lifts, refrigerators and air conditioners," said Sadhna Das Patnaik.

A birds eye view of the destruction caused by Cyclone Fani, a day after its landfall, as part of the aeriel surveillance by Coast Guard Dornier aircrafts to assess the damage caused by the cyclone, in Puri. (PTI)

Many people on Sunday also complained they were running low on cash and ATMs were not working. Ravi Manie, a corporate executive, said he has not been able to use his debit and credit cards since Friday. On Sunday, with cash running out, he had to take milk on credit from a shop.

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"In 48 hours, the middle class has gone from a cashless economy to a cash economy and now a trust economy where we are borrowing on credit from shopkeepers we know," he says.

The city also witnessed huge lines at petrol pumps. Diesel, used by homes and businesses to power generators along with vehicles, was in higher demand than petrol.

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"A single housing society that uses generators for only six hours a day is consuming around 100 liters of diesel," said the secretary of a house owners' association in the upscale Chandrasekharpur area.

Public transport was largely missing and a few auto-rickshaws that plied were accused of demanding unreasonable fares.