It`s a dark Diwali for people in north coastal Andhra which was battered by severe cyclonic storm `Hudhud` 12 days ago.
The festival of lights is devoid of any celebrations in Visakhapatnam, Vijayanagaram and Srikakulam districts as people are still reeling under the impact of ‘Hudhud’, which claimed 46 lives, damaged over 90,000 houses, agriculture and horticulture crops over 2.38 lakh hectares and a vast green cover.
The devastation caused by the cyclone overshadowed Diwali as the celebrations will be confined to lighting of ‘deepams’ or lamps and ‘puja’.
Some parts of the region, mostly in Vijayanagaram district, are still in darkness while drinking water supply has also not restored fully. The affected areas are still facing shortage of essential commodities.
People in Vijayanagaram town stood in long queues since early Thursday to buy vegetables. Though the government announced that rice, edible oil, dal and other essential items will be supplied free of cost, people found government-run ration shops locked.
At few shops, women staged a protest, demanding authorities to supply them essential commodities.
Families in the worst-hit port city of Visakhapatnam decided not to celebrate the festival as every household has suffered damage.
“How can we celebrate when there is so much devastation around? We will only perform puja and light deepams as per our tradition,” said V. Sarita, a housewife.
The usual hustle-bustle of Diwali shopping was missing in the steel city. The shops were deserted. No one appeared to be interested in buying new clothes or sweets while there was hardly any shop selling firecrackers.
With uprooted trees and debris still lying on roads across the region, the state government has appealed to people not to burst firecrackers as this may lead to fire accidents. Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu has advised people not to burst crackers, and to celebrate the festival in a simple manner.
Naidu, who camped in this city for a week to monitor relief operations, visited few villages in Vijayanagaram and Srikakulam districts on Diwali. He assured all support to the affected people.
Union Urban Development Minister M. Venkaiah Naidu also visited Visakhapatnam. He decided not to have any celebrations, and donate the saved money for relief works. The minister also announced that he and his family members will adopt a cyclone-hit village for rehabilitation.
Some people also decided to skip celebrations and donate the saved money for relief and rehabilitation in affected districts.
The devastation caused by the cyclone Oct 12 was so massive that authorities are still gathering details of the damages. According to officials, the natural calamity affected nearly 30 lakh families in 5,713 villages.