The Indian Army Saturday deployed five columns in Kolkata and two of its neighbouring districts to help the state restore essential infrastructure and services in the wake of destruction wrought by Cyclone Amphan.
The Army’s announcement came hours after the state Home Department sought its help even as protests continued in several parts of the city and suburbs because of authorities’ failure to restore water supply and power.
Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee was stopped by demonstrators in the city’s Taratala area, and had to get down from her car to placate them.
“GoWB mobilises maximum strength in unified command mode on 24×7 basis for immediate restoration of essential infrastructure and services asap. Army support has been called for; NDRF and SDRF teams deployed; Railways, port and private sector too requested to supply teams and equipment,” the Home Department tweeted.
A state government official said the Army had been already deployed in Ballygunge, Tollygunge and Behala in Kolkata; Diamond Harbour in South 24 Parganas district; and in North 24 Parganas’ Rajarhat area. An Army column has 35 personnel, including officers and junior commissioned officers.
“The Indian Army has provided three columns to assist the Kolkata city administration in the aftermath of Cyclone Amphan,” said a defence official, adding that the soldiers were equipped with road and tree clearance tools.
The state government’s move to seek the Army’s help drew praise from Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar.
Meanwhile, as protesters continued to block roads in the city and its suburbs, Banerjee urged people to “have patience”, and directed officials to speed up restoration work. The CM assured protesters in Taratala that she would talk to the Calcutta Electric Supply Corporation (CESC) about restoring power supply at the earliest.
After an aerial survey of the Sundarbans and Sagar Island, the CM reached Kakdwip Sub-Divisional Office at 1.35 pm to chair an administrative meeting of officials of South 24 Parganas.
“We are in constant contact with CESC. I told them that if you are not able to restore electricity, then at least hire generators in some areas,” Banerjee said at a press conference, adding: “This is a huge devastation. So, you have to have patience.”
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