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Rewind 2018: Heart-Wrenching Tragedies That Shook Odisha

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.

Read: Odisha Titli Aftermath: Death Toll Mounts To 77, Rs 1295.55 Cr Spent By State Govt Till Date

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).

Read: Cyclone Titli: Odisha Seeks Rs 2,014 Cr Central Aid, Naveen Writes To Modi

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.

Read: As Cyclone ‘Titli’ Approaches, How Odisha Has Become Example In Disaster Management

Read: NDMA Praises Odisha Govt For Its Cyclone Titli Preparedness

Read: Centre Approves Rs 1023.59 Cr Assistance For Titli-Affected Odisha

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.

Read: Odisha: 7 Jumbos Electrocuted To Death In Dhenkanal

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.

Read: Voices From Ground Zero: Who Is Responsible For The Elephant Electrocution Tragedy?

Read: Odisha Elephant Electrocution Tragedy: Crime Branch Arrests 2 Forest Officials, 1 CESU Jr Engineer

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.

Read: Elephant Electrocution Tragedy: NGT Slaps Rs 1 Crore Fine On CESU

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

Read: Odisha: Private Bus Falls Off Mahanadi Bridge In Cuttack City, Many Passengers Injured

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.

Read: Hear The Chilling-Account Of One Of The Cuttack Bus Accident Victims

Read: Mahanadi Bridge Bus Accident: Hear The Heart Rendering Recounts Of Deceased’s Kin

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.

Read: Who Is Responsible For The Cuttack Bus Accident?

Read: Mahanadi Bridge Bus Accident: Panel Comprising MVI, NHAI, Tata Technical Team Visits Spot For Probe

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.

Read: Truck Mows Down Several School Children In Bhadrak

Read: Bhadrak NH Tragedy: Bereft Kin Perform Cremation Of Bodies Late Night

Read: Bhadrak NH Tragedy: School Mourns Irreparable Loss Of Beloved Students

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.

Read: This Truck Driver Had Mowed Down 5 School Children In Bhadrak, Arrested

Read: Unsafe School Transport: Hear What The Parents And Teachers Have To Say

Read: After Bhadrak Tragedy Transport Secretary Emphasises On Safety Guidelines

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.

Read: Chilika Boat Capsize: All 6 Missing Bodies Rescued

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.

Read: CM Naveen Patnaik Announces Ex-Gratia For Chilika Boat Capsize Mishap

Read: Chilika Boat Capsize Tragedy: Heavy Winds Caused Mishap, 20 Unused Life Jackets Aboard, Says Probe Report

Read: Chilika Boat Capsize Tragedy: Odisha Govt To Make Life Jacket Wearing Compulsory, GPS To Be Installed In 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.

Also Read: Rewind 2018: Top Political News That Hogged Headlines

Also Read: Rewind 2018: Top Inspiring Women Newsmakers From Odisha This Year