Greenpeace India's Biswajit Mohanty talks about life after Cyclone Fani and the lessons that nature has taught them

It was way back in 1994 that Biswajit Mohanty started working for the wildlife and environment. He is a passionate and energetic person  
In the aftermath of Cyclone Fani | (Pic: Biswajit Mohanty)
In the aftermath of Cyclone Fani | (Pic: Biswajit Mohanty)

When Cyclone Fani struck Odisha and several Odias were left helpless and hapless, several others who were spared the horror and bore comparatively lesser damage ached to reach out to those who were hurt the most. Chief Minister's Relief Fund is surely an option, but there are those who would rather use other mediums. Biswaranjan Dehury was one such person who reached out to Dr Biswajit Mohanty, who was appointed as the Chairman of the Executive Committee of Greenpeace India recently.

"Biswaranjan told me, 'If you are willing to do the needful for the needy, we don't mind raising funds.' Upon agreeing, they activated their network, and some of my friends got in touch too, and together, they keep sending funds every day and we keep doing our best," says Mohanty, who has won many awards for his efforts towards wildlife conversation. So they identified areas in Puri, like Nimapara block and Satyabadi block and started their relief work in full gusto. Since the government is already giving out rice and `2,000, they decided to give mosquito nets, bed sheets and sleeping mats for a good night's sleep and solar lanterns to make up for the absence of electricity.  

Here he is: Biswajit Mohanty, Chairman of the Executive Committee of Greenpeace India | (Pic: Biswajit Mohanty)

But what saddened Mohanty was the fact that Dalit families were ignored and cast out to such an extent that they were not allowed inside safe houses before the mighty cyclone made landfall. And most of them do not have pucca houses, which makes them more vulnerable. "They don't even have any clothes except the ones they are wearing. I know a few Dalit families who are currently living under a tree," says Mohanty and humbly requests NGOs to look behind caste and creed while serving the needy. 
Relief work took some time to take off because the organisations and people who were willing to help others were themselves affected, for example, it took five days for power to come back in Mohanty's own house. "The state needs to have underground cable," he asserts.

In ruins: The devastation that Cyclone Fani left Behind | (Pic: Biswajt Mohanty)

Drawing comparisons between the Super Cyclone of 1999 and Cyclone Fani, Mohanty says that social media helped mitigate a lot of damage even before the cyclone struck and so did the police. "The government did tremendously on the saving lives front, but should have foreseen that we would need generators for pumping water and electricity," says Mohanty. And raises concern about towers which collapsed, but should have been able to withstand winds as high as of 250 kmph. "Tremendous damage has been done to poultry farmers and coconut and beetle nut farmers. We need to look into this as well," says Mohanty and concludes. 

All the help they are doing

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