Following landfall of cyclone Yaas causing extensive damage to embankments and flooding in low-lying areas, chief minister Mamata Banerjee will visit the three-most affected districts-North and South 24 Parganas and east Midnapore-on 28 May. Miss Banerjee, who has been monitoring the cyclone from Nabanna control room for the 48 hours, will go for an aerial survey of the affected areas followed by districtlevel review meetings to examine the situation.
She will first survey some of the affected areas of North 24 Parganas namely Sandeshkhali, Dhaniakhali, Hingalganj and then hold a district review meeting at Hingalganj. Then, in South 24 Parganas she will conduct an aerial survey of Sagar, Patharpratima and the Sunderbans and hold a review meeting at Sagar.
She will then head to Digha then in east Midnapore. After conducting an aerial survey of Digha, Contai and Ramnagar she will hold a district review meeting in Digha and return to Kolkata on 29 May. Miss Banerjee today said that over one crore people have been affected by cyclone and 15.5 lakh people were evacuated to 14,000 rescue shelters.
“More than 3 lakh houses have been damaged and 134 embankments broken. Around 14,000 rescue shelters have been arranged for accommodating the evacuated people. State government has spent around Rs 10 crore on relief work till now,” she said at a review meeting with district magistrates and principal secretaries at Nabanna.
One death due to drowning was reported in Ramnagar II. The deceased was staying in the rescue centre but had gone out for fishing when he drowned. Miss Banerjee said extensive damage has been caused to agriculture, agro-allied sector due to the inflow of saline water.
“The actual extent of damage will be ascertained after conducting field surveys. A detailed assessment would be carried out in the next 72 hours. A special task force headed by chief secretary Alapan Bandopadhyay has been formed to oversee restructuring work that will begin after 48 hours,” said Miss Banerjee.
Apart from villages, the high tide inundated various parts of the city-Chetla, Kalighat and Rashbehari-this afternoon. CM asked Kolkata Police commissioner Soumen Mitra to inform all police stations to alert people as high tide will continue tomorrow as well. She said power connection might be suspended in waterlogged areas to avert any untoward incident. With the irrigation department incurring the maximum damage, she asked the principal secretary to seek experts’ opinion regarding longevity of dams and embankments.
“We spend a huge amount on infrastructure and every year a natural disaster destroys it. Centre never helps us with funds for such activities,” she said, suggesting undertaking a plantation drive in coordination with the forest department to inhibit soil erosion. CM said the storm surge was more than 5m above the astronomical tide level.
“Maximum damage has been caused by the high tide, aggravating the situation further by causing extensive damage in coastal areas, flooding occurred in many low-lying areas and trees were uprooted,” she said. In Midnapore, 25 km of embankment was damaged and in South 24 Parganas, 15 areas-Namkhana, Patharpratima, Joynagar, Sagar, Kakdwip, Basanti, Kultali and Fraserganj were severely affected.
“Cyclones have become an every year phenomenon in our state. People who’ve been evacuated should remain in rescue shelters till they receive clearance from state government,” she added.