PM announces ₹1,500 crore interim relief for Amphan-hit Bengal, Odisha

Modi undertook an aerial survey in both the states along with their respective chief ministers on Friday

PM Narendra Modi during an aerial survey of areas affected by Cyclone Amphan in West Bengal | PTI Photo

Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced an advance financial assistance of ₹1,500 crore for West Bengal and Odisha, which bore the brunt of cyclone of Amphan, after he undertook an aerial survey in both the states along with their respective chief ministers on Friday (May 22).

The prime minister announced ₹1,000 crore for West Bengal and ₹500 crore for Odisha. His visit to the states came two days after cyclone Amphan, the worst in decades, made landfall on May 20, claiming at least 80 lives, besides ruining infrastructure and destructing standing crops across thousands of hectares.

He first landed in West Bengal, the worst-hit state which is already battling a surge in COVID-19 cases and deaths, besides an influx of migrant labourers, and undertook an aerial survey of the vast swamp that many districts have turned into, after the cyclone dumped copious rain on Wednesday and the accompanying winds flattened homes, bludgeoned massive trees to the ground like matchsticks, and plunged city after city into darkness.

PM Narendra Modi and West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee during a review meeting on Friday | PTI Photo

Related news: Bengal suffered losses of ₹1 lakh crore due to cyclone Amphan: Mamata

After undertaking an aerial survey of the affected areas with Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar and Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, and holding a review meeting with them and top officials, Modi announced an interim relief of ₹1,000 crore for the state where 80 people have so far lost their lives in the carnage wrought by the cyclone.

Banerjee, however, insisted that the damage caused by the cyclone was “much more than a national disaster” and said the state had suffered losses of no less than ₹1 lakh crore. Modi also announced an ex-gratia of ₹2 lakh to the families of each of those killed and ₹50,000 for the injured.

The prime minister later flew down to Odisha, where he announced a financial assistance of another ₹500 crore, after making an aerial survey of the affected districts with Governor Ganeshi Lal and Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik.

PM Narendra Modi and Odisha CM Naveen Patnaik during a review meeting | PTI Photo

Related news: Amphan ruins Rabi crops, stubs dreams of coastal Odisha farmers

He said further assistance will be provided for long-term rehabilitation measures after getting a detailed report from the state government. The leaders undertook an aerial survey of several coastal districts like Jagatsinghpur, Kendrapara, Bhadrak, Balasore, Jajpur and Mayurbhanj for about 90 minutes.

Union ministers Dharmendra Pradhan and Pratap Sarangi were among those present at the review meeting Modi held with Patnaik and others at the Biju Patnaik International Airport in Bhubaneswar.

The prime minister complimented both the TMC government of West Bengal and the BJD dispensation in Odisha for squaring up to the challenge posed by the devastation that the cyclone had caused.

Related news: Centre’s ‘neglect’ of Bengal during Amphan: Social media erupts in anger

Large parts of Kolkata were still plunged into darkness, while mobile internet services played hide and seek. The turbulence caused by the cyclone has compounded the worries for the two states where the disease is spreading its tentacles fast, fuelled by the return home of lakhs of migrant workers.

“Dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic requires social distancing, whereas battling the cyclone entails moving people to safer places,” Modi said, acknowledging the fact that the presence of a large number of people in relief shelters in the aftermath of the cyclone could defeat government’s attempts at containing the viral nightmare.

(With inputs from agencies)

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