Steadied for the vilest after the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) declared Fani as a super cyclone earlier this week, Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Saturday said that “a record 1.2 million (12 lakh) people were evacuated in 24 hours”, claiming to have carried out the “biggest human evacuation in history”.

Cyclone Fani was one of the oddest summer cyclones and the first one in 43 years to hit Odisha and one of the three to hit in the last 150 years.

About 8,00,000 people were anticipated to be expatriate from low-lying areas of 14 districts in Odisha to cyclone shelters, safer schools and college buildings, a government statement said.

Government establishments in Odisha, along India’s eastern flank, hardly stood still. To warn people of what was coming, they organized everything they had: 2.6 million text messages, 43,000 volunteers, nearly 1,000 emergency workers, television commercials, coastal sirens, buses, police officers, and public address systems blaring the same message on a loop, in local language, in very clear terms: “A cyclone is coming. Get to the shelters.”

Experts say this is a remarkable achievement, especially in a poor state in a developing country, the product of a scrupulous evacuation plan in which the authorities, sobered by past tragedies, moved a million people to safety, really fast.

We as a country should learn from Odisha to evacuate people safely without much casualties.


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Joydev Mishra


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