India 2020: Prime Minister Narendra Modi will today travel to West Bengal and Odisha to take stock of the situation in the wake of Cyclone Amphan wreaking havoc in the two states as the death toll climbed to 76, 19 of them in Kolkata alone.
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee is expected to receive the Prime Minister and will tour the affected areas with him, after asking Modi on Thursday to visit the state and witness the devastation for himself.
“He will conduct aerial surveys and take part in review meetings, where aspects of relief and rehabilitation will be discussed,” the PMO said in a tweet on Thursday.
Cyclone Amphan has left 72 people dead and thousands homeless in West Bengal, battering several parts of the state and washing away bridges and swamping low-lying areas. It also wreaked havoc in Odisha damaging power and telecom infrastructure in several coastal districts.
The extremely severe cyclonic storm has weakened and moved to Bangladesh, said the India Meterological Department (IMD). The fiercest cyclone to hit Bengal in 100 years destroyed mud houses and crops, and uprooted trees and electric poles.
According to initial estimates by the West Bengal government, Amphan has caused a loss of at least Rs 1 lakh crore. The state, already reeling from revenue loss due to Covid-19, has asked the Centre for financial help.
This will be Modi’s first visit outside the national capital after the coronavirus lockdown was imposed on the midnight of March 24.
Sources in the government said Modi will first reach Bengal in the morning and then go to Odisha in the afternoon. Besides North and South 24 Parganas and Kolkata, the districts of East Midnapore and Howrah were the worst hit in Bengal as portions of several dilapidated buildings came crashing down in several places.
In a series of tweets on Thursday, Modi said no stone will be left unturned in helping those affected by cyclone Amphan. “Have been seeing visuals from West Bengal on the devastation caused by Cyclone Amphan,” he tweeted.
Banerjee, who has been monitoring the situation at state secretariat Nabanna since Tuesday night, said the impact of Amphan was “worse than coronavirus”.
Kolkata Mayor Firhad Hakim said more than 14 lakh people in the city are living without electricity since Wednesday night. “The entire city has been devastated. Around 4,000 trees have been uprooted in Kolkata. We are short of staff due to the Lockdown. It will take some time to restore normalcy,” he said.
Packing heavy rain and winds with speeds of up to 190 kmph, the cyclone barrelled through coastal districts of North and South 24 Parganas of Bengal and Odisha on Wednesday unleashing copious rain and windstorm.
The National Crisis Management Committee (NCMC) reviewed the rescue and relief operations in Bengal and Odisha at a meeting in Delhi and was told that minimal loss of lives was reported due to accurate forecast by the IMD and timely deployment of NDRF troops.