Centre prioritises power, water, phones for cyclone-battered Bengal

New Delhi, May 25 (IANS) The National Crisis Management Committee (NCMC) held another meeting on Monday, the fourth such meeting for helping West Bengal after parts of the state were battered by cyclone Amphan that claimed an estimated 85 lives.

The meeting which was chaired by Cabinet Secretary Rajiv Gauba is part of the Centre's effort for coordination efforts and restoration measures in affected areas of Bengal.

While Rs 1,000 crore has already been released to the state government after Prime Minister Narendra Modi took stock of the situation himself, West Bengal Chief Secretary Rajiva Sinha thanked the Centre for all the necessary support provided for relief and restoration works.

“Restoration of power and telecommunication infrastructure was stated to be a priority in the cyclone affected areas of the state. While telecom connectivity has been restored in most areas, damages to the local power distribution network has affected the restoration of complete supply in some areas. Central agencies are deployed in these efforts along with teams from neighbouring states,” said a Home Ministry statement.

After the cyclone, most of the state capital Kolkata and surrounding Howrah, North and South 24 Parganas plunged into darkness. For nearly 72 hours, many areas of the capital remained without electricity, prompting anguished citizens to protest.

Meanwhile the Army has already been deployed in Kolkata, to help in carrying out road clearances along with teams of NDRF and SDRF, who were on ground even before the super cyclone made landfall.

After reviewing the restoration work, the Cabinet Secretary advised that complete power connectivity, telecom service and drinking water supplies need to be restored on priority basis. Gauba observed in the meeting that the central agencies are ready to provide any further assistance that may be required by the Mamata Banerjee government.

Meanwhile, adequate stocks of foodgrains have also been kept ready for supply if the state government asks for it.

The Ministry of Home Affairs will also be sending a central team soon to assess the damage in the state that witnessed the super cyclone said to be the deadliest in the Bay of Bengal area since 1999.

The Cabinet Secretary also suggested in the meeting that West Bengal government may indicate what more help they need from the Centre, if any, and the Centre has accordingly directed officers of central ministries and agencies to work in “close coordination” with the state government to provide all required assistance “expeditiously”.

The Chief Secretary of West Bengal too participated in the National Crisis Management Committee Meeting through Video Conference, as senior officers from central ministries like that of MHA, power, telecom, food & public distribution, health, drinking water & sanitation. The Integrated Defence Staff, NDMA and NDRF were also present in the meeting that was aimed to bring cyclone battered West Bengal back on its feet, at the earliest.



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