New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi this afternoon announced a Rs 1,000 crore “advance interim assistance” for West Bengal after he undertook an aerial survey of the areas in ravaged by Cyclone Amphan that has killed 80 people in the state. PM Modi, who was accompanied by Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar on the helicopter, assured the centre’s full support for Bengal.
“Rs. 1,000 crore advance assurance will be given to West Bengal,” PM Modi said in Basirhat on North 24 Parganas district, after the aerial survey. “All aspects relating to rehabilitation, reconstruction will be addressed. We all want West Bengal to move ahead. The centre will always stand with West Bengal in these testing times. We will work together to ensure that Bengal stands on its feet again,” he said.
Mamata Banerjee was seated some distance away from PM Modi during his briefing.
All three – the Prime Minister, the Chief Minister and the Governor – were seen in face masks as they took stock of the situation and looked down at the cyclone-hit areas from their helicopter.
Ms Banerjee and Governor Dhankhar had PM Modi at the airport in Kolkata shortly before 11 am.
The cyclone swept through several parts of Bengal, including capital Kolkata on Wednesday, leaving behind a trail of destruction, with thousands of homes damaged, and trees and electric poles uprooted.
This is PM Modi’s first travel outside Delhi in nearly three months as he remained in Delhi because of the nationwide lockdown necessitated by the coronavirus pandemic.
PM Modi had last travelled to Prayagraj and Chitrakoot in Uttar Pradesh on Febraury 29. It is after 83 days that the Prime Minister will be stepping out of the capital, to Bengal and Odisha.
Ms Banerjee had asked the Prime Minister to visit the state and inspect the damage, which she said was in the tune of Rs 1 lakh crore.
PM Modi, in a series of tweets on Thursday, said the entire county stands with Bengal and “no stone will be left unturned” to help those affected. “Have been seeing visuals from West Bengal on the devastation caused by Cyclone Amphan. In this challenging hour, the entire nation stands in solidarity with West Bengal. Praying for the well-being of the people of the state. Efforts are on to ensure normalcy,” the Prime Minister tweeted.
After Bengal, PM Modi will fly onwards for an aerial survey of Odisha.
Ahead of PM Modi’s visit, Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik spoke with Ms Banerjee today and assured all possible support to overcome the crisis triggered by the cyclone.
The cyclone also caused widespread devastation in Odisha, damaging power and telecom infrastructure in several coastal districts. Officials of the Odisha government estimated that it has affected around 44.8 lakh people in the state.