NEW DELHI: The Centre has announced an interim advance relief of ₹1,000 crore to cyclone-hit West Bengal as the state begins relief and restoration work. Super Cyclone Amphan barelled into India's eastern coast on Wednesday and left behind a trail of destruction.
" ₹1000 crore advance assurance will be given to West Bengal. ₹2 lakh would be given to the next of kin of the persons deceased and ₹50,000 each to the persons who got seriously injured due to the cyclone in parts of West Bengal," said Prime Minister Narendra Modi who conducted aerial visits of the cyclone-hit regions on Friday.
“We are battling a pandemic on one hand and now there is a cyclone situation. Dealing with the pandemic requires social distancing whereas battling the cyclone requires people to move to safer areas….We all want West Bengal to move ahead. Centre will always stand with West Bengal in these testing times," Modi added.
Amphan hit the West Bengal coast near Sunderbans with the intensity of a very severe cyclone on Wednesday, uprooting trees, damaging buildings and bringing killer storm surges of up to 4 metres that pounded the coastal areas and left vast areas inundated.
Modi was accompanied by governor Jagdeep Dhankhar and chief minister Mamata Banerjee who briefed him about the impact of the cyclone. Banerjee said the state has suffered damage up to ₹1 lakh crore, which included vast destruction of infrastructure and croplands in the coastal areas.
Cyclone Amphan has been one of the "worst ever disaster faced by West Bengal in recent times", claiming lives of over 80 people across the state. Over 5 lakh people had been evacuated and remain in relief shelters amid dangers of a pandemic and water-borne diseases.
Several lakhs are living in their houses without power supply and or means of communication.
Governor Dhankhar has contributed ₹50 lakhs to Amphan relief and urged all to contribute generously. A central team of Ministry of Home Affairs would soon visit the state to conduct an assessment of the damages.
Several states including Delhi, Kerala, and neighboring Odisha which also sustained damages due to the cyclone offered to extend help.
"Deeply saddened at the loss of so many lives…In this hour of crisis, people of Odisha are with people of West Bengal," said Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik.
PM Modi also conducted aerial survey of Odisha, where the state's northern districts suffered damages from the cyclone before it made landfall in West Bengal. The state which has been witness to several cyclones fortunately escaped with lesser damages, mostly to buildings and standing crops.