“Help all without discrimination”: Mamata to officials distributing cyclone aid

Win hearts, Mamata tells officials

Mamata Banerjee

On Wednesday, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee warned against “politics in distribution of relief material and rehabilitation programmes” for people affected by Cyclone Bulbul, The Telegraph reported.

Addressing a meeting at Basirhat in North 24-Parganas, Mamata clarified that the state government was working with its full might to restore normality in the storm-affected areas.

According to the chief minister, six lakh people have been affected and over five lakh houses damaged due to the cyclone, which made landfall late on Saturday between Sagar Islands in West Bengal and Khepupara in Bangladesh.

Traan niye doya korey rajniti korbeyn na. Kon dol na dekhey traan bili korbeyn (Nobody should do politics over distribution of relief material. Relief material should be distributed irrespective of political identities),” the chief minister said.

Saying that the losses incurred by the state due to the cyclone might go up to Rs. 50,000 crore, she asked everyone to help the needy after conducting an aerial survey of the worst-hit places.

Hoping that a team from the Centre would come and assess the situation, she made it known that at least 15 lakh hectares of agricultural land was damaged due to the storm and assured that the farmers impacted would receive adequate compensation under the crop insurance policy. “Help them (cyclone-affected people) in the way in which you saved them. For some days, don’t look at duty time. Do as much work you can. If necessary, work for 12 hours. Don’t worry, we will compensate you in other ways later,” she told the officials at the meeting. She appointed Chief Secretary Rajiv Sinha as the head of the task force to monitor the relief work every 48 hours.

“Now is the time to conduct surveys, review and take action to restore normality as soon as possible. You have done a great job in minimising losses by taking preventive measures…. I would like other districts to follow your example as a role model in mitigating natural disasters,” Mamata told the officials in Basirhat.

A total of 323 kitchens have been opened to cater to the cyclone-hit families and 94 boats employed to aid in the restoration work, the CM said.

She handed over a cheque of Rs. 2.4 lakh to each of the family members of five people from the district who lost their lives in the calamity.

She also directed officials to distribute 5 litres of kerosene, hurricane lamps and books to children affected by the cyclone as their set to appear for board examinations.

Asking the district administration officials to take a survey of the dams in the Sunderbans, requesting them to carry out repair work she said, ““If peoples are staying near any of such vulnerable dams, first ensure their rehabilitation, and then carry out the repair and restoration work. Otherwise, there will be a big accident.”

The State and the Centre have now locked horns over the distribution relief. CM Banerjee has accused the BJP of making the disaster a political game by saying that the Centre is due to pay them Rs. 17,000 crore out of which only Rs. 640 crore has been received until now.

BJP has also earlier been accused of not providing the required relief aid for states that didn’t vote for it. The Trinamul Congress and the BJD separately accused the central government of giving preference to the BJP-ruled Gujarat and Assam in providing assistance for damage caused by floods while remaining apathetic to the case of Bengal and Odisha.

Babul Supriyo, the Minister of State for Environment, Forest and Climate Change and Union Minister who travelled to South 24 Parganas district to assess the extent of the damage of the cyclone, were greeted with “go back” slogans by a group of TMC activists. He was also greeted with black flags as he reached Namkhana, the worst-affected places in the state.


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