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Amphan: Bengal seeks immediate release of relief funds from Centre

Amphan: Bengal seeks immediate release of relief funds from Centre
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Kolkata: The Bengal government urged members of the Inter-Ministerial Central Team (IMCT) to ensure the immediate release of relief funds by the Centre to redress miseries of lakhs of hapless people in the super cyclone Amphan affected areas.

The state government has presented a detailed report on the damage caused by the cyclone that led to a loss to the tune of Rs 1.02 lakh crore.

The seven-member IMCT led by Joint Secretary of Union Home Ministry Anuj Sharma on Saturday held a one-and-a-half-hour meeting with the top brass of the state government led by Chief Secretary Rajiva Sinha at Nabanna followed by their visit to different cyclone-affected areas in North and South 24-Parganas.

Sources said the central team was informed that most people in the affected areas are daily wage labourers. They were already in deep trouble without any work due to the nationwide lockdown and the hardship they were facing has intensified with the destruction caused by the cyclone.

The central team was specifically told that direct transfer of benefit to these people is the only way out to help them bounce back to normalcy as early as possible. In a bid to do so, the financial assistance by the Centre needs to be released at the earliest.

The Centre has so far provided Rs 1,000 crore financial assistance to the Bengal government to fight the devastation caused by the cyclone as announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his visit to take stock of the situation. The state government initially announced a financial package of Rs 1,000 crore and later it released Rs 6,500 crore as a direct transfer of benefit to the affected people and to undertake reconstruction work.

Elaborating the extent of damages in its report, the state government has stated that around 28.56 lakh houses were razed leading to a loss of Rs 28,560 crores while crops including boro paddy, pulses, jute, groundnut, maize and cotton worth Rs 15,860 crore were damaged on 17 lakh hectares of agricultural land in sixteen districts.

Infrastructure including warehouses, sheds and raw materials of different industries including MSME sector was damaged and it led to a loss of a whopping amount of Rs 26,790 crore. Damage of 2148.22 km of major roads, 10,091 km rural roads and 355 culverts and bridges led to a loss of Rs 2,237 crore. Most importantly, 244.73 km long embankments and 3.6 km sea dykes were damaged. Another crucial area that witnessed major damage is the power infrastructure as 4.5 lakh poles and 273 power substations were damaged leading to losses of Rs 3,230 crore.

Similarly, horticulture, fisheries and animal resources sectors witnessed damages that led to losses to Rs 6,581 crore, Rs 2,000 crore and Rs 452 crore.

Health infrastructure in these areas was also badly hit as establishments including 169 rural hospitals were badly damaged. It led to a loss of Rs 1,270 crore. Around 1,192 piped water schemes were affected and the quantum of damage was of Rs 2,060 crore.

During their visit, the IMCT members interacted with people in distress in North and South 24-Parganas and found people asking for immediate aide so that they can fight back to return to a normal life.

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