Odisha gets Rs 800 Crore to Bolster Early Warning Dissemination System

Odisha has been at the receiving end of many a natural calamity, with tropical cyclones accounting for the highest damage quantitatively. Keeping this in mind, the 15th Finance Commission has decided to grant an additional eight hundred crores out of the treasury to help Odisha further improve and bolster its pioneering early warning dissemination system (EWDS).

The Odisha government has already commissioned the EWDS mechanism in 22 blocks across six coastal districts since 2016 to provide disaster warnings to vulnerable communities. With the Finance Commission grant now sanctioned, it would proceed to upgrade and modernise the system with advanced technology. EWDS is a full-proof communication system that addresses existing gaps between the state and district level administration with the last-mile connectivity. Primarily, it aims to save lives and property in coastal areas.

At present, as many as 1205 villages from 22 blocks in the coastal districts of Balasore, Bhadrak, Jagatsinghpur, Puri and Ganjam have been covered under EWDS. Watchtowers have been set up at 122 locations within 1.5 km, as part of the system, from the coastline for the dissemination of cyclone or tsunami warning through sirens and mass messaging.

“Establishment of EWDS is part of our robust disaster preparedness strategy aiming to save lives on a priority basis. Since Odisha is hit by cyclones almost every alternate year, we had sought assistance from the finance commission to strengthen our disaster management strategy,” said an official at the Odisha State Disaster Management Authority.

Odisha, with around 480 kilometres of coastline, has faced the brunt of Category 4 and Category 5-equivalent tropical cyclones in recent years. Some of the more prominent ones were Phailin (2013), Hudhud (2014), Fani (2019), and Amphan (2020). “Under EWDS, area-specific disaster (based on cyclone prediction) warning will be disseminated to the community while the alert can be activated at any time from the emergency operation centres in the state, district or block level. The idea is to alert the last person at the remotest corner in the coastal area about an impending disaster within minutes,” said an official.

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