Unsafe cyclone shelters

OHRC Seeks Report On ‘Unsafe’ Cyclone Shelters In Odisha

Bhubaneswar: The Odisha Human Rights Commission (OHRC) has asked the Odisha government to conduct an inquiry into the allegation that cyclone shelters are in dilapidated condition across the state.

The commission has directed Secretary of Revenue and Disaster Management Department and Special Relief Commissioner to file a detailed report in the matter within eight weeks.

The order of the state rights panel has come after a complaint was filed by rights activist Akhand in the matter.

In his petition, he alleged that around 10,000 cyclone shelters in the coastal districts of the state are lying in a dilapidated state.

Cyclone shelters, which are multi-purpose buildings, assumed special significance in the wake of the 1999 super cyclone which ravaged the state’s coastal areas. However, most of these buildings are now unsafe, said the petitioner.

Following the super cyclone, some 10,042 buildings were constructed with the financial assistance of the Prime Minister’s Relief Fund, members of Parliament, the Chief Minister’s Relief Fund and some state governments, including those of Maharashtra and Karnataka.

Several voluntary agencies, corporate sectors and public sector undertakings had also donated funds for post-cyclone reconstruction and restoration. The Odisha State Disaster Mitigation Authority had built 135 cyclone shelters, while the Red Cross Society of India had constructed another 65.

These structures were supposed to be used as schools during the normal period and as temporary shelters during natural calamities.

“Most of the cyclone shelters have leaky roofs with worn out doors and windows. During floods and cyclones, the buildings would hardly be able to protect the victims from rain and wind. Most of the electric machinery and other equipment in the shelters are not functioning properly. Besides, most the shelters are deprived of electricity connection”, alleged Akhand.

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