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Friday, June 25, 2021

1 crore people hit, 3 lakh houses damaged: CM Mamata Banerjee

Speaking to reporters Wednesday, the CM, who stayed overnight at Nabanna, overseeing the state’s preparedness for the storm, said at least one crore people have been affected and nearly three lakh houses have been damaged.

By: Express News Service | Kolkata |
May 27, 2021 5:30:36 am
Army personnel rescue people in Bodhra village in Purba Medinipur. (Express Photo by Partha Paul)

Cyclone Yaas has passed West Bengal and veered towards neighbouring Jharkhand, significantly weakened post landfall, but not before it left a trail of devastation in the state, which according to Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee bore the brunt of the storm’s fury, further abetted by the high tide.

Speaking to reporters Wednesday, the CM, who stayed overnight at Nabanna, overseeing the state’s preparedness for the storm, said at least one crore people have been affected and nearly three lakh houses have been damaged.

However, she said, “It is impossible to give a proper estimate of the extent of damage before 72 hours. However, we are in the process of assessing the impact of the storm. Projects commissioned under Agriculture, Horticulture and Animal Husbandry departments have been severely hit. Everyone in the administration is engaged in rescue and relief work and can only send us a report on the total damage after 72 hours.”

“We had been able to evacuate more than 15,04,506 people before the storm hit. Because of this we managed to save many lives. Only one person died in Mandarmani, but it was an accident. He went fishing from the relief centre and ran into choppy waters. It was an accident,” Banerjee said.

The CM also issued a warning about another high tide Thursday. “Another high-tide is likely tomorrow at 8.45pm and the water level under its impact might increase by more than five feet. I am urging people to remain cautious and stay put at the relief centres till tomorrow,” she added.

According to government sources, the CM might go in for an aerial survey Friday to get a sense of the extent of devastation at East Midnapore and the two 24-Parganas. After the survey, she is likely to chair an administrative review meeting in Digha.

After the cyclone moved across to Jharkhand Wednesday, Banerjee held a review meeting at Nabanna where she was informed that, Sandeshkhali I and II, Hingalgunj, Hasnabad, Haroa of North 24 Parganas district, Namkhana, Patharpratima, Gosaba, Kulpi, Fresargunj, Basanti, Canning I and II, Budge Budge of South 24 Parganas district, Digha, Shankarpur, Tajpur, Ramnagar I and II, Contai I, II and III, Nandigram I and II, Sutahata, Mahishadal, Deshopran, Kolaghat I and II in East Midnapore district and Shyampur I and II, Uluberia, Bagnan I and II, Sankrail of Howrah district, as well as other blocks across several districts have been severely damaged by the high tide.

In most of these areas, sea and river water breached embankments during the storm, leading to a flood-like situation.

“As many villages have been inundated due to the high tide and torrential rain, the process of evacuation is still on and the rescue teams, including the NDRF, SDRF and army, are working together to rescue the people from flooded areas,” the CM added.

Banerjee said that more than 134 embankments have been completely destroyed and would have to be repaired immediately, adding that the state government has already started relief operations and food packets and tarpaulins are being distributed at different relief camps.

“There are 4,000 cyclone centres in the state and we are also using some school buildings to accommodate people. The state has disbursed relief materials worth Rs 10 crore for the affected people,” she said.

Voicing worries on embankment repair, the chief minister asked the secretary of Irrigation Department to get an expert opinion on how the government can go for permanent solution to this.

She said, “Every year, we are hit by a cyclone and the embankments are damaged. Every year, we disburse more than Rs 1000 crore to repair these embankments but they suffer fresh damage the year after. We have to find a permanent solution as we don’t have enough money in reserve and the central government also did not help us last year. I have ordered the setting up of a task force on this under Chief Secretary Alapan Bandyopadhyay. Finance Secretary, Home Secretary, Forest Secretary, Disaster and Irrigation Secretary will be the other members of the task force. We need a full-proof plan to build a permanent embankments in the Sunderbans, Medinipur and other flood-prone areas.”

The weather office has, meanwhile, predicted extremely heavy rainfall in Purba and Paschim Medinipur districts and heavy to very heavy rainfall in Jhargram, Bankura, South 24 Parganas districts over the next 24 hours.

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