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Cyclone Amphan: Death toll rises to 80, PM announces Rs 1000 crore relief for Bengal


Cyclone_Amphan_PTI_4

KOLKATA: The death toll from cyclone Amphan in West Bengal rose to 77 on Friday, as disaster management and civil authorities scrambled to restore normal life and Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that the NDA government will allocate Rs 1000 crore for the immediate assistance of the state. Meanwhile, CM Mamata Banerjee said that West Bengal has suffered losses to the tune of Rs 1 lakh crore due to cyclone Amphan that has devastated the state.

"In the month of May, the country was busy with elections and at that time we had to combat a cyclone that battered Odisha. Now, after a year, this cyclone has affected our coastal areas. People of West Bengal have been worst affected by it. State and central governments stand with the people who have been affected by the cyclone. I assure my brothers and sisters of West Bengal that the entire country stands with you in these difficult times," Modi said.

"A team will be stent by Central Government to conduct a detailed survey about the damage caused due to Cyclone Amphan and the current situation of the affected areas. All aspects relating to rehabilitation and reconstruction will be addressed. We all want West Bengal to move ahead," he said in a video message after reviewing the situation with Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar and Mamata in Basirhat in North 24 Parganas district.

"West Bengal under leadership of Mamata ji is fighting well. We are with them in these adverse times," PM further said while lauding the Trinamool Congress supremo.

Modi reviewed the situation with Mamata through an aerial survey.

After the aerial survey, Mamata attended a review meeting along with Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Basirhat and said that there is a need to work together at this hour of crisis. 

She said that West Bengal has suffered losses to the tune of Rs 1 lakh crore due to the cyclone she has briefed the prime minister in detail about the post-cyclone situation in the state.

"The prime minister has announced Rs 1,000 crore emergency fund. What is the package I do not know. I have told him that we will give him the details. It will take some time to assess the overall situation, but the damage is worth more than Rs 1 lakh crore," she said.

Banerjee said she reminded the PM about Rs 53,000 crore the central government owed to the state for various social security schemes.

The PM also announced an ex gratia of Rs 2 lakh each for families of the deceased and Rs 50,000 for the injured.

Meanwhile, eight more bodies were recovered from different parts of the state since Thursday evening, raising the death toll to 80, officials said.

In various parts of the state, bodies were found floating on water, which were recovered by disaster management teams and sent for postmortem, they said.

The number of fatalities is likely to go up as many places are still inaccessible due to the devastation unleashed by the cyclone, officials said.

Large-scale damage to infrastructure, public and private property was reported from North and South 24 Parganas, East and West Midnapore, Kolkata, Howrah and Hooghly districts.

North 24 Parganas District Magistrate Chaitali Chakrabarty said nearly 50 lakh people have been affected and communication networks destroyed.

Lakhs of people were rendered homeless as cyclone Amphan cut a path of destruction through half-a-dozen districts of West Bengal, including state capital Kolkata, Wednesday night, blowing away shanties, uprooting thousands of trees and swamping low-lying areas.

Although electricity and mobile services were restored in some parts of the state capital and North and South 24 Parganas, the two worst-hit districts, large areas of the city continued to remain without power as electric poles and communication lines had been blown away by gusting winds.

Banerjee had on Thursday announced a compensation of Rs 2 lakh each for the families of the deceased and a corpus fund of Rs 1,000 crore for preliminary restoration work in the affected areas.

Teams of the NDRF and the State Disaster Relief Force (SDRF) have been working on a war-footing to clear the roads blocked by fallen trees.

More than 5,000 trees besides a few hundred electric posts, traffic signals and police kiosks have been uprooted in and around Kolkata, said a KMC official.

West Bengal BJP president Dilip Ghosh said the central government should directly transfer the money into the accounts of the beneficiaries to avoid any "irregularities".

Dissatisfied with the assistance amount, Leader of the Congress party in Lok Sabha, Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury said Rs 1,000 crore is "nothing compared to the damage that the state has suffered".

Lakhs of people were rendered homeless as the cyclone cut a swathe through half-a-dozen districts of West Bengal on Wednesday night, blowing away shanties, uprooting thousands of trees and swamping low-lying areas.

In some parts of the state, survivors were left with houses reduced to debris and water-filled farmlands.

Although electricity and mobile services were restored in some parts of Kolkata and North and South 24 Parganas -- the two worst-hit districts -- large areas of the city continued to remain without power as electric poles and communication lines had been blown away by super strong winds.

Meanwhile, several protests demanding relief and restoration of electricity and drinking water supply took place in parts of the state, including the state capital.

Kolkata Mayor Firhad Hakim assured that normalcy would be restored within a week.

Over 5,000 trees, beside a few hundred electric posts, traffic signals and police kiosks have been uprooted in and around Kolkata, he said.

"I can assure the people of Kolkata that normalcy would be restored within a week. We are in touch with the private power supply provider and had asked them to restore the lines as early as possible," the mayor said.

Out of the eight bodies that were recovered, four were from Kolkata and two each from South 24 Parganas and Howrah.

Teams of the NDRF and the State Disaster Relief Force (SDRF) have been working on a war-footing to clear the roads blocked by fallen trees.

(With PTI Inputs)

(THE NEW INDIAN EXPRESS)