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Cyclone Amphan: These Women Are the Heroes of Odisha’s Evacuation Mission

Cyclone Amphan: These Women Are the Heroes of Odisha’s Evacuation Mission

“This year the rescue operation faced an additional challenge owing to the already existing COVID-19 pandemic. But our women officials overcame the challenge efficiently & saved lives.”

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With The Positive Collective, The Better India’s COVID-19 coverage is available to regional language publications for free. Write to editorial@thebetterindia.com for more details.


Around 5:30 AM this morning, Super Cyclone Amphan made landfall on the coastal district of Bhadrak in Odisha. Despite the presence of a sizeable population in the coastal areas, the district overcame the calamity with minimal damage, thanks to the vigilant endeavour of the district’s police force.

And deployed at the forefront of the evacuation efforts were around 118 women police personnel who helped relocate around 15,000 residents overnight thereby saving their lives at the nick of time.

118 Policewomen are Working On the Ground in Bhadrak

Speaking to The Better India (TBI), Rajesh Pandit, Bhadrak Superintendent of Police, shares, “The Odisha State government mandates 30 per cent women officials in the police force. They have to be part of all disaster management efforts without any gender discrimination. Even during the COVID-19 crisis, our policewomen efficiently managed all sectors – from traffic, relief for migrant workers, control rooms and general law and order.”

He adds that these policewomen, including constables, inspectors, sub-inspectors, home guards and other auxiliary personnel, led yesterday’s evacuation and rescue operation with absolute efficiency. “At the moment, they are working in road clearance and other post-calamity relief operations. In total, 118 policewomen are involved in Bhadrak district. The team comprises 73 constables, 7 inspectors, 6 sub-inspectors, 4 assistant sub-inspectors, 9 Odisha Auxiliary Police Force (OAPF), 1 CASI and 18 home guards,” he informs.

Furthermore, even amid the intermittent thunderstorms and rainfall, the Bhadrak police continued feeding the migrant workers, serving around 5000 meals every day.

COVID-19 Crisis Posed an Additional Challenge

Being a recurring annual phenomenon, Odisha is quite well-equipped to withstand cyclones, with special cyclone shelters built in every district. Bhadrak itself has 104 such cyclone shelters where a majority of the evacuated citizens were placed. However, this year the rescue operation faced an additional challenge owing to the already existing COVID-19 pandemic. Many of the school buildings which were previously used as cyclone shelters, were already occupied this time by quarantined migrant workers who have returned home recently. 

But the women task force, as well as their male counterparts, managed to promptly locate alternate places for shelter. The people were put up while adhering to all the social distancing norms. “We have also distributed dry rations for a few days to the rescued citizens during the evacuation,” informs SP Pandit. 

Emergency Helpline Numbers

So far, there is only one report of casualty from the cyclone in Bhadrak district. Crops and power transmission lines have faced the maximum damage and roadside trees have also been uprooted from the impact. The collector’s office in the district and the respective gram panchayats are already organising adequate relief and restoration efforts. 

24×7 emergency helpline numbers started by the Bhadrak district police: 06784 250007 / 250911 / 240911 / 240007

Bhadrak collectorate has also started a helpline – 06784251881

The toll-free national emergency helpline 999 and weather hotline 1090 will also remain operational at present. 

(Edited by Saiqua Sultan)

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