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'Casual approach' of Central team irks residents of cyclone-hit areas

Kolkata: Strong resentment was visible among the people of both South and North 24-Parganas who have been affected by cyclone Bulbul, over the "casual approach" of the Central team visiting the areas on Friday afternoon.

The nine-member Central team, divided into two groups, made an aerial survey of Sandeshkhali and Hingalgunj in North 24-Parganas, while they visited Basirhat and Hasnabad by road.

Meanwhile, the other group visited Frasergunj, Namkhana and parts of Patharpratima before proceeding towards Kolkata. The team will meet senior state government officials including Chief Secretary Rajiva Sinha and the additional Chief Secretary in charge of Irrigation and Waterways department and Agriculture department among others, at Nabanna on Saturday.

The team is supposed to assess the damage caused by the cyclonic storm Bulbul that had hit Sagar Island last Saturday.

It may be mentioned that Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had made an aerial survey of the Bulbul affected areas in South and North 24-Parganas and held administrative meetings at Namkhana and Basirhat.

She had subsequently stated that the preliminary estimate of the damages caused by the cyclone would be to the tune of at least Rs 50,000 crore.

Because of adequate measures taken by the state government to evacuate people, particularly those living in the low-lying areas, only 9 people in the state have died due to the cyclone so far.

However, crops have been destroyed and vast areas are still under water. Around 7,000 electric poles have been uprooted, while electricity supply is yet to be restored in many areas.

Local people in Hasnabad alleged that despite requests, the team members refused to talk to them. "My mud house has been damaged badly and the pisciculture which I used to carry out in the waterbody has been totally destroyed. I had thought that the Central team would visit our village," said Ibrahim Molla of Sujapur village. The team which visited Namkhana, Frasergunj and parts of Patharpratima, did not visit Mousuni Island, Jharkhali and Sagar Island, which have been badly hit by Bulbul.

Fatima Bibi of Patharpratima said: "The trees which have blocked the road are yet to be cleared and the paddy fields are still under waist-deep water. Most of the mud houses in Choto Rakshaskhali village are damaged. We thought that the team will come and talk to us. But they did not."

The team members had their lunch at Bakkhali and left for Kolkata at around 3pm.

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