Central Team In Bengal To Assess Cyclone Damage Ignored Interiors: Villagers

The seven-member central team is on a three-day visit to different blocks of North and South 24 Parganas to assess the damage caused by cyclone Amphan.

Central Team In Bengal To Assess Cyclone Damage Ignored Interiors: Villagers

Cyclone Amphan killed at least 98 people and caused large-scale destruction in West Bengal (File)

Kolkata:

Please ensure we get more tarpaulin, said a man in broken Hindi to a central government team that was visiting villages ravaged by cyclone Amphan in South 24 Parganas district on Saturday.

The seven-member team, headed by Joint Secretary (Cyber And Information Security) in the Ministry of Home Affairs Anuj Sharma, visited different blocks of North and South 24 Parganas districts in two groups.

The teams, accompanied by local block development officers and panchayat members, spoke to villagers about the availability of relief materials and loss of property and agricultural produce caused by cyclone Amphan.

However, villagers said the team's Friday visit was cursory at best and the officials reportedly ignored many areas that had suffered bulk of the damage. The officials also did not interact with reporters about their observations.

"They did not go into the interiors to see the real picture. Their convoy stopped on the highway, they briefly went around the adjacent areas and went back. They did not go to a nearby place where the mud embankment was breached by water after the cyclone; the entire area is flooded. What is the objective of such a visit?" Barun Das, a local villager, said.

The team which visited North 24 Parganas was met with protests as villagers carrying placards flanked roads in at least two of the blocks they toured, saying they were not getting enough relief materials.

However, a member of the central team which arrived in the state on Thursday for a three-day visit, said, "We are taking note of every detail, we spoke to the locals. Whatever we have to say we will mention in our report."

The central team will meet chief secretary Rajiva Sinha and other senior officials of the state government. The team is also slated to meet members of opposition parties, including BJP, Congress and CPI(M), leaders before leaving for Delhi, the official said.

At least 98 people had died in the May 20 cyclone that caused large-scale destruction to property in several districts of south Bengal.

On May 22, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had visited Basirhat in North 24 Parganas.

PM Modi had announced an advance relief of Rs 1,000 crore, which has been released to the state. Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had said that the state suffered losses of Rs 1 lakh crore due to the cyclone.