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Mapping Electricity Infrastructure Damage caused by Cyclone Ockhi

On November 30, 2017, a cyclonic storm named Ockhi caused havoc and destruction in the southernmost districts of Tamil Nadu and Kerala, particularly in Kanyakumari district of Tamil Nadu. The cyclone caused damage to infrastructure and crippled power infrastructure in Kanyakumari district of Tamil Nadu. Media reports revealed that 4000 power lines and 1500 tension lines were affected, resulting in no power for more than a week. Government reports stated that most of the power lines were restored and power supply would be restored in two days. On the other hand, there were contradictory reports from citizens and civil society groups claiming that electricity was not restored.

Interactive Map of Electricity Infrastructure Damage in Nagercoil and Kanyakumari


Thus, with the intent to identify and map geographical locations of the electricity damages that would help the utility in identification and rectification of power lines, Electricity Consumer Cells (ECC) and Federation of Consumer Organizations of Tamil Nadu and Pondicherry (FEDCOT) conducted a survey and mapped the electricity infrastructure damages caused by the cyclone Ockhi.  

The purpose of the survey was to identify and map geographical locations of the electricity infrastructure damages, so that the rectification work can be done at the earliest. For this purpose, a crisis mapping and reporting tool called “USHAHIDI” was used. Photos of the infrastructure damages and the description were taken along with the latitude and longitude of the locations using USHAHIDI. This information then automatically gets mapped on the USHAHIDI website so that people could view the survey data. This tool has been used by citizens in other countries, for example, to report damages caused by earthquake in Haiti and to report human right violations in Kenyan elections. In India it is the first time that such a reporting tool is being used for surveying and mapping electricity infrastructure damages.

Interface of the USHAHIDI Mobile Application

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Interface of the USHAHIDI Website



Day 1: The survey team was divided into two teams: Team A was headed by Sridhar, Researcher (CAG), and with two FEDCOT volunteers, Mr. Murugadoss and Mr. Ganesan. Team B was headed by Bharath Ram, Researcher (CAG), and with two FEDCOT volunteers, Mr. Sriram and Mr. Pazhavesan Muthu. Team A headed towards Kanyakumari and the other team focused on the entire Nagercoil area using a local taxi. On day one, the survey team surveyed eight villages (Suchindram, Mayiladi, Kunchanvillai, Udarapatti, Ethamozhi, NGO Colony, Konam, and Kalai Nagar) which had electricity infrastructure damages. With the guidance of the FEDCOT volunteers, the survey team interacted with villagers and documented their difficulties in meeting daily needs without electricity for more than a week.

At Suchindram village Bharath Ram got an opportunity to educate interested youth to register the electricity complaints using USHAHIDI. Packiaraj, a youth from Suchindram, he himself registered three complaints using the tool on self-interest.

Day 2: The survey team covered the remaining four villages (Rajakkamangalam, Theckurichi, Mandaikadu, and Colachel) to investigate and map the electricity issues. The team interacted with the TNEB officials there, who said that the streets were very narrow in rural areas, thus making it difficult for them to rectify damaged electric poles. They also said that they had inspected many villages to undertake repair work. More than 1500 employees were deployed in Nagercoil and Kanyakumari areas to carry out restoration work. Around 50 – 60% of the work was completed already and the remaining will be completed within a week, they said.

The survey team photographed and mapped the electricity damages using USHAHIDI tool under three categories:




Sl. No.


Number of Complaints


Infrastructure damage and no power



Rectification under progress and no power



Rectification done but no power







Electricity infrastructure damages


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The team has mapped this information along with the geographical locations.


The team mapped around 60 locations with electricity infrastructure damages and shared the same with the officials in the Tamil Nadu Electricity Board (TNEB). The survey team covered an area of 250 KMs in Kanyakumari district, which was severely affected by the cyclone.

This tool will not only help officials easily locate areas of damage and carry out rectification work but will also help citizens report electricity supply issues and demand for better services. The electricity infrastructure damages mapping has been featured as one of the most active deployments on the USHAHIDI website (



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