With cyclone Fani expected to unleash its fury from Thursday midnight, state capital Bhubaneswar will remain cut off from the rest of the country on Friday.
Never before had the city witnessed such an unsettling situation, sans 1999 when the Super Cyclone ploughed through the town.
Both the Railways and the Civil Aviation Ministries have announced cancellation of rail and air services on Friday. Private and government buses would also stay off the road, rendering the city inaccessible to the rest of the country as well to other parts of the State.
Several corporate houses in the city have declared holiday on Friday. Infosys, however, has asked its staff to report for duty on Saturday.
Bhubaneswar is barely 60 km from Puri coastline and it is feared that it will bear the brunt of the severe cyclonic system when the eye of the storm makes landfall south of Puri town.
The eye of the storm itself is reported to be about 40-50 km in radius, meaning the cyclone’s destructive power will also be felt in the Odisha capital in equal measure.
Railways has announced cancellation of 140 trains till Saturday afternoon while all the 50 flights operating out of the city have been grounded.
In the event of the storm leaving behind a trail of destruction, the city might as well take some more time and beyond 24 hours to limp back to normalcy. Resumption of air and rail traffic will consequently get affected, prolonging the cut-off period.
It took the Kochi airport 15 days time to resume operation in August last year after unprecedented torrential rain deluged the airport terminal beyond the scope of repair and restoration.
The 1999 Super Cyclone had similarly brought rail traffic to an absolute halt. It took the authorities more than a week to get the first service chugging through the city. The Howrah-Chennai corridor was a non-electrified route then. Today, trains operate under electric traction and therefore getting the snapped wire in place and restoring services would be frustratingly difficult for the public transporter.
All we can hope the cyclonic spares the city and the state from its menacing force. Odisha is not yet ready to defend another catastrophic phenomenon. The wounds of 1999 Super Cyclone are still to heal in the vast swathes of the eastern seaboard.