His Holiness the Dalai Lama has donated 1 million rupees (US$14,400) to relief and recovery work in the wake of Cyclone Fani, India’s biggest storm in 20 years, which wrought destruction and devastation when it made landfall in the eastern Indian state of Odisha last Friday, local media reported this week.
The tropical cyclone made landfall in the coastal state on 3 May, causing a reported death toll in Odisha of 38. The violent weather also resulted in widespread destruction, with an estimated 1.2 million people evacuated from 46 towns and some 15,000 villages. Odisha’s chief minister, Naveen Patnaik, has announced a relief package to provide 95,000 rupees (US$1,370) in aid to families whose homes have been destroyed.
Expressing his condolences for the suffering of the people of Odisha in a letter to Patnaik on Monday, the Dalai Lama praised the state government for proactively working to minimize the loss of life by ordering prompt evacuations, and offered prayers for the welfare of all those affected.
“I appreciate that relief efforts are underway and that everything possible is being done to help those affected. As a mark of solidarity with the people of Odisha, I am donating Rs10 lakhs from the Dalai Lama Trust to the efforts to provide relief and rebuild,” His Holiness wrote. “At the same time, I would like to express my sadness about the lives that were lost, the devastation of property, and hardship this storm has caused to many people.” (ANI, The Times of India)
Cyclone Fani brought torrential rains and wind speeds of up to 200 kilometers per hour. The authorities in Odisha, home to 46 million people, are still assessing the full extent of the impact on property and human life.
Chief minister Patnaik has announced that he will personally donate a year’s salary to the relief fund, while Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan has pledged to donate one month’s salary. The state government of Chhattishgarh has donated 110 million rupees (US$1.6 million), while the state governments of Uttar Pradesh and Tamil Nadu have each pledged 100 million rupees, and Uttarakhand has donated 50 million rupees. Donation pledges have also been received from Bollywood celebrities, sports personalities, and corporate entities.
The special relief commissioner’s office has reported that the cyclone affected more than 10.7 million people in the state, although Phuntsokling Tibetan settlement in Gajapati District, more than 100 kilometers inland, was not affected.
Odisha was hit by a devastating 30-hour super-cyclone in 1999 that caused a storm surge to sweep 20 kilometers inland and killed more than 10,000 people. This year, with the benefit of improved weather forecasting models, awareness campaigns, and evacuation protocols, Odisha’s population was better protected from the worst of Cyclone Fani’s devastating power. The state government worked in tandem with national disaster response teams and volunteers to coordinate evacuations and set up shelters, with teams distributing food and medicines in the aftermath of the storm. Emergency personnel are now working to clear debris from roads and repair infrastructure, including power and telecom lines.
Support for Victims of Cyclone Fani in Odisha (His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet)
His Holiness the Dalai Lama contributes to Cyclone Fani relief efforts (Phayul.com)
Odisha cyclone: CM Naveen Patnaik pledges 1-yr salary; Dalai Lama, Dharmendra Pradhan donate too (The Statesman)
Cyclone Fani: Dalai Lama donates Rs 10 lakhs to Odisha for relief work (ANI)
Dalai Lama, Akshay Kumar extend support to cyclone victims (The Asian Age)
Dalai Lama, Patnaik, Pradhan donate for Odisha cyclone victims (The Times of India)
Odisha: Cyclone Fani death toll reaches 38 (The Times of India)
Cyclone Fani: UN praises India’s response to devastating storm (Al Jazeera)