Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday undertook an aerial survey of West Bengal and Odisha to ascertain the damage caused by Cyclone Amphan. He had earlier announced a rehabilitation package of Rs 1,000 crore in advance to West Bengal. Later, Modi also announced Rs 500 crore as aid to Odisha.
Meanwhile, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said that at least 80 people have died in the state due to Cyclone Amphan, The Hindu reported. Sixty-one of them died in the districts and 19 in Kolkata, she added.
Modi undertook the aerial survey of West Bengal with Banerjee and Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar.
In Odisha, Modi was received by Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik and Governor Ganeshi Lal. According to a preliminary estimate, 44.8 lakh people living in 89 blocks of the state were affected by incessant rain and strong winds. The roads have been cleared by the disaster response force personnel, but the power infrastructure will take some time to return to normal.
This is the first time that the prime minister is travelling outside Delhi in nearly three months, after the countrywide lockdown to contain the coronavirus brought the country to a standstill.
Thousands of houses were wiped out and low-lying areas were swept under torrential rain as Cyclone Amphan made landfall near Sagar Islands in South 24 Parganas district on Wednesday. The storm, strongest on record in the Bay of Bengal, snapped power lines, blew roofs, upturned cars and uprooted trees. The destruction caused, unprecedented in recent public memory, also left Kolkata airport completely flooded. The airport, however, began operations at noon on Thursday.
Most of the victims were electrocuted by downed wires and sustained injuries from falling trees. The state government will give Rs 2 lakh as compensation to the families of each of the victims. Banerjee said the state government has created a fund of Rs 1,000 crore to carry out the relief work.
Union Home Minister Amit Shah has also assured Banerjee that the Centre will extend full help to the state. Chief Minister Banerjee has pegged the damage caused by Amphan at Rs 1 lakh crore.
Earlier on Friday, Modi said the entire nation stood with West Bengal and “no stone will be left unturned” to help those affected. “Have been seeing visuals from West Bengal on the devastation caused by Cyclone Amphan,” he tweeted. “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.”
Banerjee said she will visit the affected areas after three to four days, once connectivity is restored. “The restoration work will start soon,” the chief minister added. Each minister has been asked to take responsibility of a district. Relief in terms of providing drinking water, electricity, and restoring roads will be carried out immediately. Food grains will be delivered directly to people’s homes in places where ration shops have been affected.
Amphan also wreaked havoc on wildlife in the Sundarbans, alongside houses and agricultural land in the coastal areas.
The toll in Bangladesh rose to 26, reported Dhaka Tribune. However, the official estimate still said 10 people have died. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has asked authorities to provide money and relief materials to the affected people and reconstruct their houses.
At least 10 million people across the country are now without electricity. “Almost all of our consumers have been affected by the devastation caused by the cyclone, except those living in areas adjacent to Dhaka,” Bangladesh Rural Electrification Board member Anjan Kanti Das told Dhaka Tribune.