May, 2019

    On May 3 CSIR-Institute of Minerals and Materials Technology (IMMT) campus at Bhubaneswar was devastated by cyclone Fani. CSIR-IMMT is well known for its lush green campus and vegetation all round. In the aftermath of Fani nothing remained and the surroundings were unrecognizable. Trees uprooted every 50 m on the road and every 3 m on the green belt area of the campus. It took us some time to fathom the carnage of cyclone Fani. Along with it started long power cuts as expected and water shortage due to the breaking of pipelines and power outage. Although it took 5 days to get back the power, water supply was restored within 24 hour. This was possible due to timely maintenance of diesel generator set as it was operational round the clock for 5 days and repairing of broken water pipelines by the Engineering Services Department. We were one of the luckiest ones in Bhubaneswar to get electricity connection in five days as our lines are all underground and not damaged by the fallen trees. Next day to cyclone Fani, all the staff members were on the street in peak summer to help each other to clear all the fallen trees to give access to the Laboratory from the colony homes and the Main Gate. It took us two days to give access to Laboratory to Vani Vihar and NH Gates. We did not have any experience in using a chain saw to cut trees and dispose it. At this point it looked like a herculean task next to impossible to accomplish, but due to constant effort of the Egineering Services Staff, Laboratory Technical and Workshop Staff backed up by immaculate planning of the Scientists it was possible. This would have not possible without the constant guidance and encouragement and support of Dr Shekhar C. Mande, DG CSIR. On his behest NDRF team started operating in our campus from the 5th day when our moral was getting down as we were on the job continuously for five days being professionally untrained to handle such humongous disaster. The help from NDRF team could have not come at a better time than this and they worked for next 20 days to clean all the debris only from roads, footpath and some cases precariously leaned tree in many colony houses and Lab area. They could not touch green areas like Bamboo Garden, Volleyball court, Children Park, Green Belt opposite PGRP hostel, and Lab area etc. It will take a minimum of six months to clear all the fallen trees and subsequent rehabilitation and replantation of trees. The support I received from the staff members cannot be described by any words and I shall be indebted to them for their hard work, perseverance, patience, discipline and planning in difficult times as outside the campus people were equally or in a more difficult situation than us due to similar situation and not in a position to seek for help.

    As we were recovering, NDRF team started working in our campus to clear out debris and the electricity connection restored, we started working on relief work outside IMMT campus in Konark, Katakpur, Neemapada, Satyabadi, Brahmagiri and Puri, the most affected areas by cyclone Fani. My first visit to fisherman villages in Konark and Puri, situated close to the sea shore where the land fall of Fani actually happened, was a horrible experience. By this time the people of the villages had returned from the nearby cyclone-proof shelter. On my arrival, the people actively showed me around the village to demonstrate the amount of damage that had been done including their houses and surroundings, the boat and religious places. Indeed, I visited all the places to solace them and record all the damages across the villages. Surprisingly they wanted to fix their religious worship places, community centre, their homes and the fishing boats in the order of preference as mentioned. Government of Odisha already made arrangements for food on a regular basis through Corporator and Assistant Block Development Officer and later through assistance provided by CSIR and many other organizations. In the meantime, our sister labs, e.g., Central Food Technology Research Institute (CFTRI) Mysuru and Central Salt, Marine and Chemical Research Institute (CSMCRI) Bhavnagar contacted us to plan for mega relief operation of CSIR (Council of Scientific & Industrial Research) through IMMT sending -Ready to eat (poha / upma)- from Mysuru and Water Bus from Bhavnagar for providing water from any type water sources, e.g, saline, turbid, used, washed. The first batch of nine ton -Ready to eat- food material from CFTRI arrived on May 7 and was immediately distributed to the Satyabadi area of Block Development Office as per the requirement given by the Puri Collector. We found Puri Collector’s office working round the clock and very efficiently. Next batch of eight ton ready to eat food material was sent on May 9 and we distributed it to Katakpur with the help from Red Cross as the situation became tense. The self sufficient water bus, generates the electricity required for membrane purification unit, arrived on May 8 along with six engineers and two drivers after driving through several states of India. We immediately placed it in Katakpur having a small stream of water source with help from state Public Health Engineering Organization (PHEO). Water produced at 6000 litres per hour were collected by small tankers and distributed in different blocks and villages where roads are narrow and big water tanker or the water bus cannot reach. The water bus shifted to Satyabadi area for a week as per the requirement of BDO and PHEO instruction after three days. Thereafter it was taken to different places of Puri district for more than 15 days to supply clean water. Mega relief operation of CSIR happened from Institute of Himalayan Bioresource Technology (IHBT) Palampur lab. They sent one lakh meals containing canned ‘kichdri’ and energy bars weighing sixty seven tons. This has been sent in batches of seven to eight tons and we distributed ourselves with the help from Puri Collector’s Office in Government Schools of Puri district by inviting school children and their parents. I participated in the distribution of canned food and energy bar to school children and parents in Bhishwambhar Vidyapith, Puri. We always felt that we should distribute food material on our own rather than sending it to designated places for distribution. I had a wonderful experience of giving during this period starting early in the morning and finally coming to the institute to do regular work and ending the day with loads of satisfaction. CSIR sent two batches of Scientists from Structural Engineering Research Centre (SERC) Chennai and Central Building Research Institute (CBRI) Roorkee to study and advise state Government to secure the tall structures, such as high tension power line and quick rehabilitation of hut structures.

    The report on CSIR Relief Work for Fani victims captured in print media is documented in this booklet for the Ministers, Policy Makers, Administrators, Managers, Officers, Scientists and public at large for their perusal, record and information. The Council of Scientific and Industrial Research in it’s 77th year of existence always has been working for the common man to improve their daily life, be it through industrial research and development, societal work and human resources development.

May God Bless You!

Prof. Suddhasatwa Basu
Director, CSIR-IMMT