In the Tekkali revenue division of Sriakulam district in Andhra Pradesh, most villages plunged into darkness Cyclone Titli, with a wind speed of more than 165 kmph, destroyed the power supply lines in the area. The cyclone tore into cashew and coconut crops spread and left behind devastation.
Tekkali revenue division, consisting Ichchapuram, Jalumuru, Kanchili, Kaviti, Kotabommali, Mandasa, Nandigam, Palasa, Santhabommali, Sompeta, Vajrapu Kotturu mandals - has been affected the most, as the power supply is yet to be restored in many villages.
The number of poles fallen down into the fields and lack of communication facilities have made the rehabilitation task more difficult for authorities. Operations to restore power lines on in full swing mode at many of these places, with the Electricity Department and State Disaster Management Authorities involved in putting the poles back up.
According to an official estimate, more than 36,000 electric poles have fallen down due to the fierce winds. A senior employee from the electricity department said, “Much of the damage was Tekkali and Palasa, as the cyclone made its landfall in these areas."
Deva Vara Prasad, Srikakulam Superintendent Engineer (SE) in the Andhra Pradesh Eastern Power Distribution Company Limited, informed TNM that as many as 300 regular staff from the district and 400 engineers, who were deputed from across the state, are overseeing and actively taking part in restoration operations.
According to Deva Vara Prasad, 7,000 people have been engaged for restoration works in 309 batches to speed up the restoration works. He further added that 36 out of 38 mandals have suffered a partial or complete destruction of electric poles and power supply lines.
In a conversation with this reporter on a Palasa-bound bus, one of the two electricity department employees, who came from Palamaner in Chittoor district on special duty, said, “Since it has become tough to dig pits and reset the poles in their original spots, we have been asked to set them up along the main roads.”
Gorla Chalapati Rao, a farmer in Deppuru of Chipurupalli panchayat of Vajrapu Kotturu mandal, said, “As far as drinking water is concerned, somehow, we are managing with the help of tankers. Everything can get sorted only if we get power supply so that the bore motors can work again.”
Chipurupally panchayat consists of 8 villages and since Cyclone Titli made its landfall, there has been no electricity in any of the 8 villages.
S Dharma Rao, a farmer, complained that no official from either the horticulture department or the electricity department has come to see the kind of devastation that Cyclone Titli left behind. “No one has cleared the roads, we (villagers) had to lift and remove the trees which had fallen across the roads,” Rao added.
The government is supplying water to many areas with the help of fire engines. A young farmer, Prasad K, whose house is one of those located close to coconut crops two kilometres away from Bahadapalli village in Mandasa mandal, told TNM, “The water service vehicles are not coming here since our home is far from the village. If the power supply resumes sooner, we can tap the water from the motor pumps and the bore pumps here itself.”
Tele-connectivity has also been affected due to lack of the power supply since many mobile towers, too, have been damaged due to the cyclone.
Srikakulam Superintendent Engineer Deva Vara Prasad has also stated that the restoration works in Vajrapu Kotturu and the bordering Miliaputti mandals are on full swing. He said that till now, 26,000 poles have been replaced adding that out of 101, 91 electricity sub-stations are back in operation.
Prasad added that restoration will be completed in a week. “All the 11kv and 33kv sub-stations will start supplying power in the coming three days, while the rest will be done within the next seven days,” he added.
Andhra CM Chandrababu Naidu, along with his crew and top government officials, is camped in Palasa town and is overseeing the relief and restoration operations in the area. Cyclone Titli has affected nearly 9 lakh people in as many as 18 mandals of Srikakulam.