July 05, 2019

Resilience, diversity in focus as Bhubaneswar tries to restore trees lost to Fani

Photograph: Citizen Matters/ Basudev Mahapatra

One morning, nearly a month after Cyclone Fani struck Odisha, Ashok Baral, a citizen of Bhubaneswar, came upon a fallen trunk of a banyan tree near the Stewart School boundary wall. The tree had been uprooted by the cyclonic storm Fani, which hit the city on May 3, 2019. Recalling that particular moment, Ashok says, “Though it was my regular route home from the milk vendor, it seemed as if the helpless trunk of the tree was trying to tell me something on this particular day. I stayed there, looked at the trunk for some time, and wrote a message to the forest and environment secretary immediately after I came back, on behalf of the tree, requesting him to restore it at the place where it existed before.”

June 17, 2019

Restoration of Ansupa Lake brightens wetland conservation hopes

Photograph: Mongabay India/ Basudev Mahapatra

Ansupa Lake was a wasteland three years ago and of no use to the fishing community living in the vicinity.

The oxbow lake formed by the Mahanadi was covered in over 20 types of freshwater weeds, which proved detrimental to the ecosystem.

The Chilika Development Authority, which took charge of developing the lake, formed The Ansupa Integrated Self Help Group, which manages lake activities.

With the help of a mechanical weed harvester, the lake is now cleared. Fishing is regulated and income from tourism goes back to the community.

June 05, 2019

Can Bhubaneswar’s smart city infrastructure withstand summer heat stress?

Cyclone Fani in early May was one more reminder for Bhubaneswar of its vulnerability to extreme weather events, and the massive damage to urban infrastructure that such events could bring about, even in an upcoming ‘smart’ city.

Fani left Bhubaneswar in shambles in its trail, with uprooted trees all around falling on roads and buildings, disrupting major services like supply of water and electricity as well as Internet connectivity. Life in the city remained miserable for weeks. Last year too, life in the city had been severely disrupted, as it almost went under water following unusually heavy rainfall of nearly 200 mm in a day.

May 25, 2019

Mandasaru: Biodiversity takes centre stage in Odisha’s silent valley

Photograph: VillageSquare/ Basudev Mahapatra

Forest communities of Mandasaru hills are taking steps to conserve biodiversity in Odisha’s silent valley, even as the world celebrates International Day for Biological Diversity on 22 May

May 20, 2019

Fani aftermath: Civil society groups play key role in cyclone-ravaged Bhubaneswar

Photograph: Citizen Matters

Cyclone Fani blew in and out of Orissa nearly two weeks back. But relief and rehabilitation of lakhs of affected people in Puri, Cuttack and Bhubaneshwar is yet to pick up pace. Pitching in, mainly in Bhubaneshwar, with the aim of getting local communities involved in the restoration works is Civil Society Responds to Fani (CSRF), an initiative by a group of state-based not-for-profit organisations.

May 15, 2019

Odisha government must learn from its experiences while dealing with post Fani situation

Photograph: Urban Update/ Basudev Mahapatra
Cyclone Fani made its landfall in the coastal state of Odisha at a wind speed of 175 kmph on May 3, 2019. This was a category 4 storm, which is a notch below the worst level. Odisha government managed to minimize the human loss and evacuated over a million people from 15 Odisha districts to cyclone shelters, including schools and other government buildings. But the post-disaster situation in the cyclone hit areas remain severe