‘Yaas’, They Did It Again: Two Odias Who Led From The Front

Bhubaneswar: ‘Yaas’, the third summer cyclone which hit Odisha in three years, flattened houses and flooded villages while making landfall 20 km south of Balasore on Wednesday, has moved northwestwards and weakened into a Deep Depression over Jharkhand.

The impact of Cyclone Yaas on Odisha has been less than expected as the storm saw a drop in intensity ahead of the landfall and the maximum wind speed decreased to 155 kmph from the expected 185 kmph. While several trees were uprooted in the strong winds, there was no major damage to power and telecom infrastructure.

Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik has announced a 7-day relief for all families of 128 marooned villages of the cyclone-affected districts. Major roads and 80 per cent of electricity supply in these districts will be restored in the next 24 hours.

Amid the ‘worst is over’ moment, Odisha also has a reason to feel proud. The forecast and preparedness of the very severe cyclonic storm were helmed by two Odias – Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) Director General (DG) Mrutyunjay Mohapatra and National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) DG Satya Narayan Pradhan.

The IMD and NDRF played a crucial role as Yaas headed menacingly towards the Odisha coast. While one was creating awareness through accurate and timely forecast and the other, fully geared with all the equipment and paraphernalia, evacuating people from coastal areas of Odisha and West Bengal.

The NDRF had made the highest-ever deployment of 52 teams in Odisha and another 45 in Bengal. It saved 10 fishermen stranded on a river island after their boat capsized in Jagatsinghpur in a daring night rescue operation using just one torchlight.

Mrutyunjay Mohapatra

A native of Bhadrak district, Mohapatra has been always at the forefront, extending all cooperation to the Odisha government during natural disasters. Affectionately known as ‘cyclone man of India’, he has been accurately predicting the path of several cyclonic storms, including Amphan and FANI, their wind-speed and likely impact on life and property. The timely warnings have allowed the authorities to shift millions of people from coastal areas to safer places.

Prior to joining the IMD, Mohapatra, who did his Masters in Physics, worked with the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) laboratory in Chandipur.

Satya Narayan Pradhan

Pradhan, a 1988-batch IPS officer of Jharkhand cadre, belongs to Bhubaneswar. He did his post-graduation in Political Science from Hyderabad University, and M.Phil in International Relations from JNU, New Delhi. He was awarded the prestigious Chevening Fellowship of the British Council under which he acquired the degree of LLM with distinction in International Human Rights Law from the University of Essex, UK.

He was awarded the President’s Medal for Meritorious Service in 2006 and the President’s Police Medal for Distinguished Service in 2012. In 2008, he was given the Queen’s Award for Innovation in Policing by the Government of UK. In recent years, he has been conferred with several awards for his numerous innovations in the use of IT in policing.

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