Tata Trusts' impact response to Odisha's disastrous cyclone 'Fani'
Odisha was becoming a climate hotspot in more unprecedented way the state was hit by a severe cyclonic storm ‘Fani’ with speed of more than 200 km/hr hitting the prosperous coastal region in May 2019. The 14 districts were under its impact, 18000 villages and 15 million of people bore the brunt of the cyclone with complete lapse of electricity and communication network and very severe damage to houses, livelihood and agriculture and forest.
Arun Pandhi, Tata Trusts says – ‘Historically, Odisha is hit by cyclones at regular intervals and our teams has elaborate experience in disaster relief and rehabilitation. Our team was on standstill and once we knew there has been a landfill near Puri, our team mobilized itself. Our core strength is in provision for water through mobile RO systems.’
Responding to this unprecedented situation, the Tata Trusts team made a rapid assessment of some of the maximum cyclone hit area in Puri and Khurda district. The team begun with this the horror and tragedy and trauma faced by the community members, but women and children experiencing the maximum of it. Damaged electric lines, houses, uprooted trees, coconut farms, mango orchids were largely visible everywhere.
All these made meeting the bare needs of the people a daunting task with fear of water contamination further making the drinking water issue a major challenge to health and hygiene in the affected areas.
Suvasish Panda, Livolink Foundation says – ‘So whatever was assessed in this particular assessment, it came up very glaringly that besides the requirements for food, shelter and other sanitation activities, water came up as the glaring requirement of the community.’
With this background, Tata Trusts in collaboration with Tata community development trust and Tata Motors initiated supply of pure RO drinking water in the water scared area of Puri and Khurda in war footing manner. The cumulative intelligence of some of the recent disaster responses in drinking water by the trust in Kerala, Karnataka and Jammu & Kashmir shaped the operation strategy and delivery on the ground. The intervention proved a very effective one on the ground. People lined and waited in queues for the last drop in the stock as the machine pulled purified water from the wells and delivered sparkling pure clean and bacteria free water.
Gyandip Pandia, Tata Trusts adds – ‘This RO purification is bringing the TDS to a consumable level and also the microbial and bacterial contamination is getting cleaned.’
With volunteers from Centre for Youth and Social Development, Jagriti and the community itself pitched in with great enthusiasm. The fatigue, exasperation, extreme heat conditions could not deter the team from delivering 115000 plus liters of pure drinking water to the needy.
Swati Das, CYSD says - ‘We understand the credibility of drinking water during such disaster. This RO water supply in this area is definitely saving people from lot of water contamination related issues and giving them the satisfaction of drinking clean water during this troubled times.’
However, it was great team work and feeling for the Livolink Foundation and Tata Trusts team on ground. As they move forward, the focus will now shift to rehabilitation and some level of reconstruction of infrastructure in the affected villages. The water intervention was a much needed relief to the thousands of water scarce population.
The support and initiative shown by the community in this whole ordeal inspires a lot of confidence to visualize a resilient and empowered community to face any unforeseen circumstances in the future.
Tata Trusts is amongst India's oldest, non-sectarian philanthropic organisations. The Trusts own two-third of the stock-holding of Tata Sons Limited, the apex company of the Tata group of companies.
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