28 December 2018
Bhubaneswar: With the dawn of a new year, one can hope that all the bad is left behind and we move forward with only the good memories. However, tragedy and fortune are two sides of the same coin. Despite all preparedness, one cannot run away from the inevitable. In 2017 too, there were some events that left us shattered and devastated. These mishaps occurred suddenly and claimed innocent lives. Some of them are:
1. Cyclone Titli: While the State Government was prepared for a zero-casualty Cyclone ‘Titli’, the flash floods that came as an aftermath of the natural calamity claimed at least 77 lives in Odisha. The disaster also caused the death of several livestock and the severe damages to crop and property.
Odisha Government sought a financial assistance of Rs 2014 crore towards cyclone relief from the Centre. While the losses from the cyclone has been assessed at Rs 2765 crore, the remaining Rs 751 crore was borne by the State from the State Disaster Relief Fund (SDRF).
Immediately after the disaster, all departments of the State Government joined hands for immediate relief and restoration work. While the Centre applauded Odisha’s disaster-preparedness, they also took over two months to approve of the financial assistance.
2. Dhenkanal Elephant Electrocution Tragedy
On the morning of October 27, Odisha woke up to the death of seven elephants, who were electrocuted by a low hanging 11-KV wire near Kamalanga village in Sadar forest range.
According to sources, a herd of elephants had wandered close to human habitation in search of food when they came in contact with low-hanging live wires that were laid by the railway department for track construction work.
Soon after the incident hit the headlines, a blame-game ensued between various departments. Meanwhile, Odisha Chief Minister ordered a Crime Branch inquiry into the incident following which two forest officials and one CESU engineer were arrested for dereliction of duty.
The National Green Tribunal (NGT) too registered a suo motu case over the death of seven elephants due to electrocution and imposed a penalty of Rs 1 crore on the Central Electricity Supply Utility (CESU) for its alleged negligence.
3. Bus Falls Off Mahanadi Bridge
On the fateful evening of November 20, a private bus named ‘Jagannath’ coming from Talcher fell off the Mahanadi Bridge on the outskirts of the city and turned turtle on the sand of the dry river bed 30 feet below, killing over 10 passengers and injuring more than 50 people. The incident allegedly took place after the bus hit a buffalo
While rescue operation was launched on a war footing by the Fire and Police personnel as well as the ODRAF teams, the people affected by the accident had some shocking experiences to share.
Soon, people started wondering who was to be blamed for the incident. While some asked whether the bus was overloaded, some questioned if the bridge was to be used by heavy vehicles. On the other hand, the blame hasn’t been pinpointed on anyone yet and investigation is still underway.
4. Truck Mows Down School Children
On July 19, in a tragic incident five school children were mowed down by a speeding 10-wheeler lorry while they were crossing the National Highway 16. The mishap took place at Ranital Chowk near Rahanja in Bhadrak district when the children were returning home after school.
Soon after on July 23, the erring driver was arrested in Bhadrak. The incident had triggered a state-wide debate on how safe is our school children’s transport and who should be responsible for the well-being when they are in school. Meanwhile, Transport Secretary of Odisha had emphasized on road safety guidelines to avoid any such incidents.
5. Chilika Boat Capsize Tragedy
In a tragic boat capsize incident of Chilika Lake in June, as many as six persons were found dead when the boat carrying 17 passengers including the boatman was returning from Kalijai to Balugaon. The boat capsized under the impact of strong winds during a thunderstorm that lashed the region.
Soon after the incident, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik had announced ex-gratia for the kin of the deceased and the incident snowballed into a major controversy on why life jackets had not been used. Soon after that, the State Government had made use of life jackets mandatory on boats and had ordered installation of GPS on boats.
While these tragedies shook the State to its core, incidents like Kerala floods and Amritsar Train Tragedy left many heartbroken in the national front. Similarly, California wildfires, Indonesia tsunami and plane crashes took centre stage in world news. On one hand people say that media has becoming increasingly depressing with sad incidents assuming significance, but such unfortunate events are simply inevitable. Here’s to hoping that 2019 comes with happiness and good news for citizens of the World.