Cyclone Phailin is not over yet, and Orissa is not all about Bhubaneswar. If lessons be learnt from 1999, there’s an enormous amount of work to be done, beginning with the administration ending its premature jubilation. Even as this cyclone did not prove to be as catastrophic as the ’99 one, we must not undermine the challenges that are ahead of us. Evacuation is not enough, rehabilitation is the key. Farmers, fishers and the poor in the vulnerable coastal belts devoid of ecological balances, wrought upon them through corporate greed – are the sections of population that will be the worst sufferers. 500,000 hectares of crops have been damaged and the already impoverished state of Orissa has been relegated further down.
I am sharing with you all my journey as a reporter during the 1999 “super cyclone” when the team of Asian Age covered it extensively. Some of it are pure nostalgia, but many are pointers to what may lie ahead.