The bitter tussle between West Bengal Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar and Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee found no respite even in the post-Amphan situation though the state is struggling with relief operations in several of its parts ravaged by the cyclone.
Dhankhar on Sunday (May 24) asked, in a tone of warning, Banerjee to share the accurate figures of the damages with the PMO, and not “inflate” it. Else, he said, it will be counter-productive. The governor also countered her for not maintaining communication with him.
I have directed all authorities to attend to RAJ BHAWAN in last ONLY AFTER NORMALCY IS RESTORED IN CITY
URGE @MamataOfficial :BE IN TOUCH WITH GUV-HAD THIS BEEN DONE ARMY WOULD HAVE BEEN CALLED 3 DAYS BACK
SHARE REAL LOSS @PMOIndia :INFLATING FIGURES IS COUNTER PRODUCTIVE(2/2)
— Governor West Bengal Jagdeep Dhankhar (@jdhankhar1) May 24, 2020
Greatly appreciate commitment @narendramodi to extend all assistance @MamataOfficial for rebuilding and reconstructing the devastated infrastructure #Amphan. A good step @MamataOfficial to seek assistance of army – delay of three days has been hurtful. pic.twitter.com/aPWX0yz6WU
— Governor West Bengal Jagdeep Dhankhar (@jdhankhar1) May 23, 2020
Alleging a “delay” in calling the Army for restoration works, the governor claimed that if the chief minister had stayed in touch with him, the central forces could have been brought in three days earlier.
“Urge @MamataOfficial: be in touch with Guv – had this been done, Army would have been called 3 days back,” he said. “A good step @MamataOfficial to seek assistance of army – delay of three days has been hurtful,” the governor had said in another tweet.
Five columns of the Army was deployed in Kolkata and neighbouring North and South 24 Parganas districts on Saturday for restoration and relief works following a request from the state government.
The governor had earlier invited criticism on Twitter as users had differed with his tweet that the state had suffered “nunnotomo khoti (minimal damage)” due to the cyclone. Meanwhile, he has also donated ₹50 lakh for the cyclone relief operations in the state.
Army, NDRF undertake restoration
The Army and the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) teams reached areas likes Salt Lake, Behala and Golpark in Kolkata on Sunday morning to clear the arterial and other link roads blocked by uprooted trees.
The forest department and the Kolkata Municipal Corporation also engaged their staffers in the road clearance work. In places like Mudiali in south Kolkata, locals too stepped in with saws to clear roads blocked by uprooted trees.
A total of 38 NDRF teams have been deployed in various parts of the state, 19 alone in Kolkata, with sophisticated tools and equipment to speed up the rehabilitation work, said Nisheeth Upadhyay, an NDRF commandant.
“The cyclone has caused huge devastation in Bengal, not just in coastal areas but in the state capital too. In the city, we are working alongside KMC officials, who are helping us with directions to the affected areas
“In the districts, too, our teams have shifted people from low-lying areas to safety, provided them with necessary medical aid,” said Upadhayay, the commandant of NDRF second battalion.
He said that advance deployment of personnel in six districts of the state helped ensure minimal loss of lives. He contended almost all arterial roads in Kolkata and its adjoining districts have been cleared, and felled trees removed.
“We carried out the evacuation operation on time. We also used public address systems to carry out an awareness programme in local languages in rural areas before the cyclone struck,” noted Upadhayay.
“The NDRF personnel are working all night with light-mounted helmets. The teams are equipped with modern tools and equipment, such as gasoline cutters, to carry out the relief work. We will do everything possible to ensure people are not inconvenienced. That’s our job,” he said.
Vijay Sinha, the commandant of NDRF first battalion, said five teams from Patna, each consisting of 25-30 personnel, are undertaking restoration work on a war footing in Bengal with state-of-the-art equipment such as life detectors and victim location camera.
Sinha also said his team members are carrying MFR (medical first responder) kits with them to provide immediate medical assistance to pregnant women, or those suffering from cardiovascular diseases.
Over 80 people died and lakhs were rendered homeless as cyclone Amphan cut a path of destruction through half-a- dozen districts of West Bengal, including Kolkata, on Wednesday night, blowing away shanties, and swamping low-lying areas.
The NDRF commandant further said that the state government lent all possible help and support to the force to carry out the clean-up operation. “The NDRF and the state administration are working together to tide over the crisis,” he added.
(With inputs from agencies)