Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Monday constituted a task force, led by Chief Secretary Rajiva Sinha, to look into the relief and restoration work in south Bengal districts hit by Cyclone Bulbul this weekend. She also announced a compensation of Rs 2 lakh for the families of each of those killed in the storm.
Mamata, who reached here after taking an aerial survey of the affected areas, also directed setting up of similar task force, led by the district magistrate, in each of the affected districts to monitor relief work.
“Every 48 hours these task forces will meet and survey the rehabilitation and reconstruction work… My administration did a commendable job. The devastation, otherwise, could have been far more… If they (officials) had not rescued 1.78 lakh people, I cannot say what would have happened. They will be rewarded. Even the central government applauded (the efforts),” the Chief Minister said.
She, however, expressed dissatisfaction that officials have not yet been able to compile the total figure of losses. At a meeting with top administration officials, she said: “You all are seen the devastation and losses. The actual losses are much more than that. So, you have to go to every village, meet people to calculate the exact loss… Within two or three days, a central team will come to see the devastation. The total losses should be counted before that.”
During the aerial tour of the affected areas of Namkhana, Bakkhali, Kakdwip and other parts of Sundarbans, she reportedly said: “The losses quoted by the district administration and the actual figure has a big difference. Actual losses are much more. The paddy fields and mangroves have been totally ruined by Bulbul.”
“As of now, reports suggest that over 10 lakh people have been affected by the cyclone. The number might increase in the days to come… Eight persons have died, so far and almost 2 lakh house destroyed,” the Chief Minister said, adding that 471 relief camps and 323 common kitchens are functional and 94 boats deployed for relief operation.
The Chief Minister advised officials to take the help of civic volunteers of Accredited Social Health Activist (ASHA), Integrated Child Development Services (ICDR) to speed up the relief operations.
She directed the state agriculture adviser, Pradip Majumdar, and other officers of the agriculture department to formulate plans on what should be done with the ruined paddy and jute crops. She also directed the officials to compensate the farmers, whose crops have been ruined, under the crop insurance plan. “For those who lost their houses, make new houses for them as soon as possible. Also, get the repair work partly damaged houses,” she directed the district officials.
Alerting the district administration of “people trying to make political gain from the dissatisfaction of the people”, Mamata told officials to be alert. “The police officials should be especially alert on this issue. Any such situation arises, inform the district task force as quickly as possible,” she said.
Mamata is set to visit cyclone-affected areas of Basirhat in North 24-Parganas on Wednesday.