West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Saturday urged people to be patient and sought more time for restoration of essential services in the wake of the destruction caused by Cyclone Amphan. The state has suffered a loss of about Rs 1 lakh crore to infrastructure and crops and at least 86 people have died after the cyclone wreaked havoc.
“It’s just been two days since the catastrophe,” Banerjee said at a press conference. “We are all working day and night. Please be patient. We are trying to restore everything as soon as possible.”
On Friday, protests erupted in certain parts of Kolkata and suburbs over the power and water crisis. Amphan, the strongest storm on record in the Bay of Bengal, made landfall near Sagar Islands in South 24 Parganas district on Wednesday with wind speed as high as 185 km per hour. The destruction caused, unprecedented in recent public memory, snapped power lines and upturned cars. The winds blew apart some buildings, while ropes of rain sent thousands of poor villagers rushing to evacuation shelters.
“I am aware that people are in distress,” Banerjee added. “I fold my hands and ask for forgiveness...the other thing you can do is cut off my head. We are also human. We have been going on despite intensely laborious schedules. We’ve had sleepless nights. So many people have been rendered homeless.”
The chief minister assured people that her administration is working to restore normalcy, adding that drinking water has been contaminated due to the floods after the cyclone. “How do you think they are coping,” she asked. “We’re helping them. Our teams are working to help them.”
The West Bengal government had also sought help from the Indian Army after protests. The Army on Saturday sent three columns of troops to assist the Kolkata City Civil Administration to help with restoration work. Two more were sent to North and South 24 Parganas districts, PTI reported.
Kolkata municipal chairperson Firhad Hakim warned that it will take at least five to six days to pump out the water from streets, to clear the uprooted trees and restore the water supply, according to AFP. Police said more than 5,000 people took part in different demonstrations early Saturday.