Rs 1k-crore aid not enough for Bengal: CM
Banerjee on Friday said 60 million people were directly affected while the state’s population, as per the 2011 Census, was 90.13 million.Updated: May 24, 2020 00:00 IST
Kolkata: West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee on Saturday said the state has suffered 10 times more losses than Rs 1,000 crore advance relief package that Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced during his visit on Friday even as her ministers and state officials said it would take at least a week to prepare reports on the damage cyclone Amphan has caused.
“At least 1 million houses have been damaged and 7.3 million people affected in this [South 24 Parganas] district. There should be no wasteful expenditure during relief operations. This is bigger than the national disaster. Now we have four problems to deal with: coronavirus, lockdown, migrant workers and this cyclone. And, we have had no revenue income for two months,” she said during a visit to the district.
Banerjee on Friday said 60 million people were directly affected while the state’s population, as per the 2011 Census, was 90.13 million. “More than 70% of the population is directly affected and 30% indirectly,” she said on Saturday.
Benerjee said river embankments along 56 km area had been completely damaged in South 24 Parganas’ Kakdwip and they had to be repaired before the coming monsoon to save the villages from floods.
According to records of the state irrigation and waterways department that HT has seen, after cyclone Aila hit the Sunderbans in 2009, the Left Front government reconstructed 778 km long embankments. Of them, 77 km long embankments were washed away or breached and 601 km severely damaged.
The total length of embankments in the region in 2009 was 3,122 km. The repair project was approved in 2010 and the approved cost was Rs 5,032 crore. It took years to complete the repair work and in some parts, it was done even in 2018, an official said on condition of anonymity.
State panchayat and rural development minister Subrata Mukherjee said it will take quite some time to access the damage done to crops and property in rural areas. “As of now, we have decided to employ people under MNREGS [Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme] to start the restoration work. This will generate additional employment as well.”
Forest minister Rajib Banerjee said all beat, range offices, watchtowers, and trail cameras installed in the Sunderbans have been damaged. “Kilometres long fencing erected to keep tigers inside core areas are also damaged along with jetties and plantations. The loss is huge but it will take at least a week to calculate. Moreover, parks and gardens in Kolkata and other places have also suffered extensive damage.”
Ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC) Lok Sabha member Dibyendu Adhikari said he was touring his constituency in East Midnapore district, where Haldia and Contai have suffered huge losses to property and crops. “However, it is too early to come to a figure.”
People in parts of Kolkata and adjoining districts remained without electricity, water, cable television, mobile network, and the internet for the fourth day. Roads were blocked by agitated citizens in at least a dozen places in protest. Police had to resort to baton-charge to clear Kalyani Expressway in North 24 Parganas district.