Even as West Bengal picks up the pieces after Cyclone Amphan left a trail of destruction, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Wednesday lashed out at the ruling party for running trains for migrant workers according to its “whims and conditions” at a time when its resources were strained.
Addressing a press conference, Banerjee asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi to intervene and limit Shramik trains being sent to the state. The TMC supremo said the state’s infrastructure was “stretched to its limit” following the devastation caused by Cyclone Amphan.
“They (BJP) can disturb me politically, why are they causing harm to state. I request PM Modi and Home Minister to look into sending of Shramik trains so that there is no spike in Covid-19 cases in Bengal,” Banerjee said.
“The state government is facing a dual crisis of the Covid-19 pandemic and the devastation caused by Cyclone Amphan. Our infrastructure is completely stretched. Where will we keep these migrant labourers for institutional quarantine? This is not the time for politics. We are facing a very tough situation and we need time and space to tackle it,” the chief minister further said.
Stating that the cyclone affected 6 crore people and left 87 people dead, Banerjee announced immediate relief of Rs 20,000 for 10 lakh homes that were devastated or had roofs blown off.
“As per the government assessment, 8.13 lakh people were evacuated while 2 lakh are still in shelters. About 4.5 lakh electric poles and 10.5 lakh agricultural land have been damaged. Besides, 317 km of urban road and 4,410 km rural road have been damaged,” Mamata said.
The brunt of the cyclone was felt mostly in the Sunderbans, where Mamata claimed 700 km road was damaged. “The entire Budget allocated for the Sunderbans will have to be now spent on road repair,” she said.
With protests erupting in several parts of Kolkata over erratic electricity and water supply, the Bengal CM assured the people that by evening more than 90 per cent of the areas would have their power connection restored.
“By today evening, out of 33 lakh CESC consumers, 32.7 lakh connections will be restored. Moreover, police and fire brigade personnel will be incorporated into development efforts,” Banerjee said.
On Tuesday, Home Secretary Alapan Bandyopadhyay said electricity had been restored in 94 of the 103 municipal towns affected by the cyclone, while telecommunication services were back in 85 per cent of such areas.
Meanwhile, Education Minister Partha Chatterjee said schools would remain closed till June 30. Chatterjee said the decision was taken as several school buildings were damaged by the cyclone in eight districts and there was also a possibility that some of the buildings might be used as quarantine centres for the migrant workers.
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