Prime Minister Narendra Modi will travel to West Bengal and Odisha on Friday to take stock of the situation in the wake of super cyclone Amphan and conduct aerial surveys. West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Thursday had urged the PM to visit the state. She said a Rs 1,000-crore fund has been created for restoration work in areas affected by Amphan, which has claimed 72 lives in the state.
Replying to Mamata Banerjee’s plea, PM Narendra Modi said that “no stone will be left unturned” to help those affected. “In this challenging hour, the entire nation stands in solidarity with West Bengal. Praying for the well-being of the people of the state. Efforts are on to ensure normalcy,” the PM tweeted. The Prime Minister’s Office tweeted, “Tomorrow, PM Narendra Modi will travel to West Bengal and Odisha to take stock of the situation in the wake of Cyclone Amphan.
He will conduct aerial surveys and take part in review meetings, where aspects of relief and rehabilitation will be discussed.” With winds clocking 160 to 180 kmph speed, the cyclone caused great havoc, flooding many areas of Kolkata. The devastation is yet to be assessed but Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has claimed the people died due to falling trees and lightning caused by Amphan. She said the situation is not good at all and she will conduct an aerial survey soon. A compensation of Rs 2.5 lakh to the families of the deceased has been announced. “I have never witnessed such a fierce cyclone and destruction in my life.
I have asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi to visit the state and see for himself. People who are in relief camps should remain there. The super cyclone continued for 8 hours and now we are left without electricity, water and internet. Even the Secretariat was shaking with fear yesterday and the window panes were shattered in my office. I was unable to go inside my room and thought that the building would collapse,” the CM said.
She stated that today not only income is zero for the state but such severe challenges are also at hand. “Migrant workers have to be brought back and arrangements for quarantine are to be made. There is a lot at hand and even more to spend. Everything has been destroyed and today, north Bengal will be affected. Our current priority is to provide relief and shelter to the affected people,” said Banerjee.
“The situation has become very serious. I have told the Home Minister that I have never seen a similar disaster before and we require help. We have not received money for Covid either. People are already scared of the virus and now this. Several states have increased 5 or 10% on taxes but we have not. Income is zero and all investment is already done – Rs 200 crore fund has been deployed for disaster management and Rs 150 crore has been distributed to the public. There has been more investment in Covid but we have not received any money from the Centre,” she added.
According to her, 15 people have died in Kolkata, 7 in Howrah, 17 in North 24 Parganas, 6 in East Midnapore, 18 in South 24 Parganas, 6 in Nadia and 2 in Hooghly. She also claimed that damages in the state due to the cyclone could total Rs 1 lakh crore. “Sarbanash hoye galo (everything is destroyed)… Communications are disrupted,” she had said yesterday and remained in her office to monitor conditions. She added that even though 5 lakh people were evacuated, the authorities had not anticipated this level of catastrophe. The strongest storm on record in the Bay of Bengal since 1999-Amphan blew roofs, smacked power lines, uprooted trees, upturned cars and caused landfall on Wednesday.
The impact of the storm is visible at the Kolkata Airport which is filled with water. The strong winds and heavy rainfall damaged the runways and hangars. In one part of the airport, most of the infrastructure is submerged and greatly damaged. Power-cut, telephonic and internet connections are also an issue in the state. Amphan’s deadly trail can be seen in the districts of North 24 Parganas, South 24 Parganas, Midnapore and Kolkata. Sources said it was not even possible to stand upright in Digha when the storm hit. Relief operations are being carried out in the affected areas but it is becoming difficult to manage it, given the coronavirus outbreak.