Kolkata: Even as Prime Minister Narendra Modi is set to take an aerial survey to assess the damage caused by Cyclone Amphan, a majority of Kolkata remains in darkness in the absence of electricity.
For over 36 hours now, the state capital has seen a power outage and disruption in water supply. Essential services are struggling to function as the administration struggles to clean blocked thoroughfares, while pockets in Kolkata still remain waterlogged and are struggling with uprooted trees, electricity posts and dangling wires.
The situation is even more dire in the state’s rural areas.
An unusual sortie: PM, CM & Governor together
Prime Minister Narendra Modi is scheduled to hold a review meeting at North 24 Paragana’s Basirhat Friday morning. ThePrint has reliably learnt from sources that Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar will be present at the meeting.
Sources also told ThePrint that the three will fly in the same helicopter from Kolkata airport to Basirhat. They are scheduled to start around 11 am from Kolkata and hold a review meeting at a Basirhat school at around noon.
Basirhat is a minority-dominated constituency near the India-Bangladesh international border. It is one of the worst affected constituencies in North 24 district.
The sortie comes amid Centre-state conflict, with the chief minister time and again taking on the Modi government and Governor Dhankar over a host of issues.
Of late, there has been a spate of letters between the CM and Governor over the government’s handling of the Covid-19 crisis. Despite the chopper ride, this is unlikely to end anytime soon, though.
Talking to The Print, Governor Dhankhar said, “I have sought a report from the government on the damages caused by Cyclone Amphan. I will ensure all possible assistance from the Centre for my state and government.”
He added that he received a response on 20 May to his letter seeking information on the formation of administrative boards to run the urban bodies as civic elections have been postponed in the state.
Rising death toll
So far, at least 80 people have died due to the cyclone.
According to a Kolkata Police statement, 19 people were killed in Kolkata, while the government sources claimed that over 60 people have died in the districts.
A senior Kolkata Police officer said at least nine to 10 of the of the 19 victims died of electrocution. The waterlogged city has many dangling live wires, some of which have got entangled with the uprooted trees. Of 19 victims, 15 have been identified.
Social media has been flooded with gory videos and images of two bodies floating in water at Parnashree in the southern fringes of Kolkata. The police said at least five people were killed in the area, most of whom were electrocuted.
Electrocution deaths were also reported from districts including Hooghly and North 24 Paragana.
Damage and destruction
Around 1,800 trees have been uprooted across major thoroughfares and in localities of Kolkata bringing major city life to a standstill.
Even as around 19 NDRF teams, the disaster management units (DMGs) of Kolkata Police and the Kolkata Municipal Corporation teams are working to clear the major thoroughfares, localities in the city are reeling under acute shortage of water and have been left with no electricity.
There has also been no word on how and when the essential services like water and power supply would be restored as the KMC and power service providers claim to have ‘skeletal workforce’ due to the lockdown.
“We are short of staff and we were asked to clear the thoroughfares first,” a KMC official said.
Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, while holding a televised administrative meeting at Nabanna Thursday, said relief work will take time.
“We will take all 100-day workers to repair the damaged structures. We are bringing this repairing work under the NREGA scheme,” she said. “Since the state is suffering from a huge financial crisis, we will not take any big projects now. It will take us three to four days to get a real picture of the extent of damage. Communication has been lost. In many places, people are living without water and power. The restoration work will take time.”
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