Mamata to demand central grant for Cyclone Aila victims

Updated on May 28, 2009 01:09 AM IST

Railways Minister Mamata Banerjee said she will urge Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to give a central grant for those who have suffered property losses in Cyclone Aila.

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IANS | By, Kolkata

Railways Minister Mamata Banerjee on Wednesday said she will urge Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to give a central grant for those who have suffered property losses in Cyclone Aila.

Speaking to media persons at her Kalighat residence in Kolkata, she said she will also insist for a special master plan for flood control and river erosion. "But the money should be given to the gram panchayats (village councils), as they have a close connection with the people."

She said if the funds are given to the West Bengal government, they will never reach the people. "They (Left front government of West Bengal) will digest it."

Banerjee, who stayed back in Kolkata on Monday to empathise with the cyclone affected people and even took charge as railways minister here, said she would attend the second round of the swearing-in ceremony of the Manmohan Singh government in Delhi on Thursday.

"I am going for a day to or two to Delhi. The Prime Minister (Manmohan Singh) has called me to be present during the swearing-in. But more than that, I will talk to him and ask for help for those who have suffered loss of property," she said.

Banerjee said the six ministers of state from her party will also return to the state on Thursday after taking their oath and visit the affected areas and interact with the cyclone victims.

Assailing the state government for not "doing its duty for the cyclone victims, Banerjee said: "It seems no government exists in this state".

She said despite the forecasts of the cyclone, the government did not take any precautionary measures. "Had we not fought with the centre to get the army, thousands of people would have died," she said.

Banerjee said though the weather has improved after Cyclone Aila lashed the state on Monday, the situation continued to be grim.

"Even in Kolkata, there is no electricity or water. The government's only activity is to give statements from the state secretariat that they are giving relief to the people."

Banerjee claimed that 100,000 people have been left stranded between Ichamati and Kalindi rivers in North 24 Parganas district.

"They are in this situation from Monday. They have not got any relief. They are totally disconnected," she said, adding she was contacting the army for airdropping food.

Banerjee said Kumirmari under Sundarbans, and five mouzas (subdivisions) in Mathurapur II were submerged, while people in parts of Hooghly and Midnapore (East) were in a miserable situation, as they had got no relief.

Attacking the state government for its yearly routine of putting up embankments with boulders during the monsoon season, Banerjee said: "Such work should be done between September and March, as we do it in the Railways; otherwise the boulders are immediately washed away."

"Also, in Bangladesh I have seen concrete embankments. Why don't they do that here also, instead of using boulders?" she said, alleging that a lot of "cut-money is involved".

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