Lashed by Cyclone Phailin and grappling with the resultant floods, the Odisha government on Wednesday sought immediate release of Rs 1,523 crore from the Centre to expedite relief and restoration efforts, as the death toll from the twin phenomena touched 36.
The toll following the high-velocity cyclone and floods in five districts of the state rose to 36 today after the recovery of eight more bodies.
Of these, five were found in Balasore while three bodies were recovered in Mayurbhanj district, a senior official said.
"In order to take up relief and restoration work of an immediate nature, I request you to release an advance of Rs 1,000 crore over and above the corpus of Rs 523 crore available in the State Disaster Response Fund for 2013-14," Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik said in a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
Stating that it would help the state government in meeting the immediate requirements for relief and restoration, Patnaik said a detailed report in the form of a memorandum would be presented soon after the assessment of the damage.
"An early response in the matter will be highly appreciated," Patnaik said.
Highlighting the "extensive" damage caused to the power infrastructure in Ganjam district, which alone would require Rs 900 crore for full restoration, Patnaik said that a major grid station had been devastated.
"(The power infrastructure) requires immediate restoration, for which I have already sought the support of the Government of India, particularly the PSUs under the Ministry of Power such as PGCIL, NTPC and NHPC," Patnaik said.
Meanwhile, an updated report from the government put the number of affected persons in the twin calamities at 1.21 crore, while the number of disaster-hit villages across 17 districts jumped to 17,674.
With the situation triggered by Phailin and the floods almost under control, Chief Secretary JK Mohapatra said restoration of the power grid was essential as it had severely affected the supply of drinking water to villages and urban centres.
Over 300 have been deployed by the Union power ministry to assist in the restoration of electric supply in Odisha and Andhra Pradesh.
National Disaster Management Authority Vice-Chairman M Shashidhar Reddy said that 300 experts were being immediately deployed in the cyclone-hit areas of Odisha which have been without power since Saturday.
A total of 647 villages remained marooned in Odisha even though the flood situation in the five northern districts of Balasore, Mayurbhanj, Bhadrak, Jajpur and Keonjhar slightly improved today.
Image: A fisherman digs a hole to catch crabs for food at the cyclone-hit Nalianuagaon village in Ganjam district in Odisha ' Photograph: Adnan Abidi/Reuters