West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Wednesday directed officials to carry out restoration works on war-footing to bring back normalcy in the districts ravaged by Cyclone Amphan. She also advised them to constitute task forces in the districts, which should include MLAs, Zilla Parishad members, local police station officers to constantly monitor relief works.
During a review meeting at the state secretariat, Banerjee said priority should be given to installing tube wells and rebuilding damaged embankments as the rainy season is approaching.
"We have to complete restoration works on a war-footing. We have to rebuild the embankments which have been destroyed. The Sundarbans has been devastated. Embankments in areas like Sunderbans, Sagardweep, and Namkhana are in very bad shape. We have to rebuild them before the monsoon sets in," she said at the meeting.
Availability of drinking water should also be ensured with high priority, Banerjee said, adding that Rs 100 crore was disbursed to install tube wells in the affected districts. "Ensure that all the victims get relief materials. I am ready to beg to provide them relief," she added.
Cyclone Amphan has affected at least eight districts, but North and South 24 Parganas bore the maximum brunt and their district magistrates must work on a war footing along with superintendents of police, the chief minister said.
The home secretary and the irrigation secretary will be camping in North and South 24 Parganas districts respectively for the next three days to oversee the restoration work.
She also said that around 4.5 lakh electric poles have been uprooted in the districts and it would be difficult to fix new poles until the water recedes. "Around 90 per cent of restoration works of electricity has been done and only 10 per cent is remaining," she said.
Banerjee lauded the officials for evacuating over 8.5 lakh people before the landfall of the cyclone on May 20. There could have been nearly six lakh casualties otherwise, she said. Cyclone Amphan claimed 87 lives in the state while around two lakh people are currently in relief camps.
"Around six crore people have been directly affected by Cyclone Amphan and 10 crore indirectly. More than 60 per cent of the state's population has been affected," the chief minister added. She also said the state-owned West Bengal State Electricity Board carried out restoration work in the power sector better than CESC, a private utility.
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