With super cyclone Amphan wreaking havoc in West Bengal and Odhisa, a high-level meeting of National Crisis Management Committee (NCMC) took place in Delhi. The meeting, headed by the Union Cabinet Secretary, was attended by several officials from the Centre as well as states. After attending the meeting, NDRF DG S.N. Pradhan spoke to The Daily Guardian about Amphan and its saftereffects. Excerpts:
Q: What was discussed with West Bengal and Odisha in the NCMC meeting?
A: Both states gave primary information about the damage caused by the storm. West Bengal said that the assessment of the damage should be done. The process of rough assessment has already begun. Apart from the Chief Secretary of the two states, the Home Secretary was also a part of the meeting. He told us the preliminary assessment. Odisha has suffered losses but West Bengal has suffered more.
There has been major damage in six to 16 districts located in the area. A detailed assessment by a Home Ministry team will soon be conducted on the ground, while initial action has begun. The West Bengal chief secretary said there has been much damage due to the sea water, which has penetrated many places. Fisheries and standing crops have been massively damaged.
It is a matter of fact that sea water has penetrated many places, mud houses have suffered a lot in the coastal areas. There is a lot of damage to the electric and telephone poles causing communication facilities to have come to a standstill in many places. It needs to be fixed immediately and our employees are engaged. A detailed estimate will be assessed when the MHA team goes to the ground.
Q: What does the initial assessment say about loss of life and property?
A: The Chief Secretary of West Bengal said that the number of confirmed deaths is at 7 and that it will more or less increase to 10. As reports are awaited from remote areas, the number may further increase. Odisha’s Chief Secretary said that a 2-yearold died in their state but the matter is still being investigated to ascertain whether it was due to the storm or not. For now, Odisha hasn’t reported any deaths due to Amphan.
Q: Which area of West Bengal has suffered more, what information has come to light from there?
A: The Chief Secretary has only said that 6 to 16 districts, which are coastal areas are worst affected, out of which 6 districts are severely affected. The affected areas are the ones where landfall has occurred, i.e. coastal areas of Bay of Bengal, South 24 Parganas, North 24 Parganas, Midnapore and Howrah.
Chief Secretaries of Odisha and West Bengal informed that timely, accurate forecast by IMD and advance deployment of NDRF facilitated in evacuation of about 5 lakh people in West Bengal and about 2 lakh in Odisha. This has resulted in minimal loss of human lives, considering the fact that the intensity of the Amphan was next only to that of the super cyclone that had hit Odisha in 1999 causing large-scale devastation back then.
Q: Kolkata Airport has suffered a lot of damage, what can you share about that?
A: The Civil Aviation Secretary was also part of the video conference. He said that there has been a lot of damage and that repair work would begin by 21 May late afternoon or evening. Water has entered some areas of the airport and it is being flushed out; the airport will be made operational soon.
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Bank licences to corporates a ‘bad idea’: Rajan
New Delhi: Days after an Internal Working Group (IWG) of Reserve Bank of India’s (RBI) recommended allowing large Indian corporates to enter the banking sector, former RBI Governor Raghuram Rajan and Deputy Governor Viral Acharya have hit back at the suggestion and questioned the timing for it. Terming the recommendation as a “bombshell”, in a blogpost, they said that although several recommendations of the report are worth adopting the one to allow corporate houses into banking should not be taken up. “To the contrary, it is even more important today to stick to the tried and tested limits on corporate involvement in banking,” said the article.
Foreign Secretary to visit Nepal on 26 November
Kathmandu: Resuming the high-level visit and exchanges with Nepal, India is sending its top diplomat to Kathmandu on 26 November. Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla will pay an official visit to the Himalayan country on November 26-27, Nepal’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement on Monday. The announcement was made in New Delhi too. The visit is in keeping with the tradition of regular high-level exchanges between the two neighbours and the priority India attaches to its relations with Nepal, India’s Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said in its statement. Shringla’s visit comes after two back-to-back high-level visits from new Delhi by Army Chief General Manoj Mukund Naravane (November) and Research and Analysis Wing head Samant Goel (October).
Market opens higher, Sensex hits fresh high
Mumbai: The key Indian equity indices opened in the green on Monday with the BSE Sensex touching a new record high within just minutes into the trade. Healthy buying was witnessed in metal, energy and oil and gas stocks. Sensex touched an all-time high of 44,271.15 points. The Nifty50 on the National Stock Exchange was trading at 12,930.85, higher by 71.80 points or 0.56 per cent from its previous close.
Covid-19: Vibrant Gujarat summit may be postponed
The biennial Vibrant Gujarat Global Summit, organised by the Gujarat government to attract investors, is unlikely to be held this year, due to the worsening Covid-19 situation in Gujarat. The summit, considered the foremost among all industrial summits of Gujarat, may be postponed till January 2021.
A senior Gujarat government official told The Daily Guardian that Vibrant Gujarat would be held in the first or second week of January. However, given the pandemic situation at the moment, it is difficult to say whether the summit will take place in just a month and half’s time for sure. However, an official decision is yet to be taken. No announcements have been made about cancelling the January event.
Narendra Modi started the Vibrant Gujarat Summit in 2003 when he was the Chief Minister of Gujarat to attract foreign investors to the state.
Military storage bunkers spotted in Chinese village near Doklam
NEW DELHI: China’s new villages close to the Line of Actual Control, meant ostensibly for settling civilians from far-flung areas close to the border, are part of strategy to enhance its military infrastructure in the area, top sources said.
One such village has also come up near Doklam where military storage facilities have been observed, as per intelligence reports. Construction of the new hardened bunkers appears to be an effort at militarily reinforcing the larger Doklam region, the source said.
There are dozens of similar settlements along the LAC, most of them coming up in areas facing Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh. Part of their integrated model villages that the Chinese intend to put to dual use – for civil and military purposes, some villages however remain uninhabited and are only turning out to increase military infrastructure to cater to additional deployment of the People’s Liberation Army.
Shelters have also come up at Bumdro which is opposite Kameng. Six to seven concrete huts have been constructed at Bumdro near Domsongrong to accommodate PLA personnel during their patrolling activity in Mera La, Thag La and Yangtse Area.
China has also constructed a road from Tirkangto Shivung La. The work was being undertaken from uphill side of Tirkang village in the south west direction towards Shiyung La.
Farmers’ union refuses to budge, Punjab CM expresses concern
Expressing serious concern over the decision of one farmers’ union not to allow passenger trains to ply till the Centre accedes to their demands on the issue of farm laws, Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Monday said this would put the people to major inconvenience and could have grave consequences for the state.
Reacting to the announcement of Kissan Mazdoor Sangharsh Committee (Piddi) that they would not budge on their rail blockade of passenger trains till the farm laws’ issue is resolved, the Chief Minister said that, by striking this discordant note, the union was acting against the interests of Punjab and its people.
When all the other 31 farmers’ organisations had decided unanimously to withdraw from the tracks to allow both goods and passenger trains to move in the state for the next 15 days, this one union’s decision was not understandable, said Captain Amarinder, adding that this would alienate Kissan Mazdoor Sangharsh Committee (Piddi) from the people.
He cautioned the Committee against taking such a harsh stand, which could lead to them losing the support of the masses, who had so far wholeheartedly backed the farmers’ agitation against the farm laws. “When the state government and every person in Punjab has been extending their full support to the farmers, why is this Union taking a stance against their own state?” he asked.
Given that both the Centre and the other farmers’ unions had taken conciliatory steps to resolve the crisis triggered by the agricultural laws, the Kissan Mazdoor Sangharsh Committee (Piddi) should not do anything to derail the process of negotiation and discussion, he added. It was in the interest of all, including the farmers themselves, to find a solution to the problems unleashed by the central laws, on which every section of Punjab’s populace, as well as his government, was standing shoulder to shoulder with the farming community, said the Chief Minister.
The message that was emanating from the stand of the Kissan Mazdoor Sangharsh Committee (Piddi) was that the union was not really interested in breaking the stalemate on the farm laws issue, Captain Amarinder said. In any case, said the Chief Minister, blocking a one-odd track would serve no purpose even for the Committee, which, incidentally, had chosen to stay away from the meeting convened by him on Saturday to urge the farm unions to lift their blockade.
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