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Army troops in Bengal for restoration work

In a string of tweets, the WB Home Dept said state had mobilised just about everyone it could within the constraints of the lockdown in a unified command mode but it needed more help

Army troops in Bengal for restoration work

Kolkata: The Army was deployed in Kolkata and neighbouring districts on Saturday for the restoration of essential infrastructure and services in the wake of the destruction caused by Cyclone Amphan, a defence official said.

Five columns of the Army were deployed in different parts of the city and North and South 24-Parganas districts, he said. These three parts of the state reported the maximum damage due to the cyclone.

This came after the West Bengal Home Department said the government had mobilised just about everyone it could within the constraints of the lockdown in a "unified command mode" but was falling short of help in the immediate restoration of essential infrastructure and services. The state also asked for aid from the Railways and the private sector in providing manpower and equipment.

"Army support has been called for, the National Disaster Response Force and State Disaster Response Force teams [have been] deployed," the state's Home Department said in a series of tweets. It added that authorities have been asked to supply water pouches where there is a shortage. "Generators being hired where necessary," it said. "More than a hundred teams from multiple departments and bodies working for cutting of fallen trees."

Army personnel equipped with road and tree clearance equipment were deployed at Tollygunge, Ballygunge and Behala in South Kolkata, the official added.

Army columns were also deployed for restoration work at New Town in North 24-Parganas district and Diamond Harbour in South 24-Parganas district, he said.

An Army column has 35 men, including officers and junior commissioned officers.

The Centre on Saturday also mobilised 10 additional National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) teams in the state for restoration work.

These NDRF teams are being sent on receipt of a written request from Principal Secretary (Disaster Management and Civil Defence), West Bengal government, the Home Ministry official said.

"Ten additional NDRF teams have been mobilised and are being rushed at the earliest from NDRF locations outside West Bengal. Teams are likely to reach Kolkata by late night today (Saturday)," the official added.

Urging people to show patience, Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Saturday said the administration was working tirelessly to bring about normalcy in the state that has been ravaged by Amphan.

Banerjee conducted an aerial survey of the worst affected regions of South 24-Parganas district for the second consecutive day, after accompanying Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar on Friday.

"We are facing four challenges at a time, COVID-19, lockdown, issues related to migrant labourers and now the cyclonic disaster," she said.

After holding a review meeting at Kakdwip in the district, the Chief Minister said the devastation caused by Amphan is "more than a national disaster".

Talking to the press at Nabanna after visiting Kakdwip, a visibly emotional Mamata said: "We are working round-the-clock to restore normalcy. We have been in action from Thursday — within 24 hours after the cyclone hit Bengal. As many as 225 teams are working in Kolkata."

Cyclone Amphan, the most severe storm in the Bay of Bengal since the Super Cyclone of 1999, made landfall around 20km east of Sagar Islands in the Sunderbans on Wednesday afternoon, cutting off road links, snapping telecommunications and power lines. It killed about 86 people in West Bengal including about 19 in state capital Kolkata.

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