Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced Rs 1,500 crore ($20 million) for the relief and rehabilitation of people affected by Cyclone Amphan in West Bengal and Odisha, and assured the states of more support after conducting separate aerial surveys with chief ministers Mamata Banerjee and Naveen Patnaik on Friday.
West Bengal is fighting well, the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) quoted Modi as saying in a series of tweets, while undermining the fact that the state is faced with the a double whammy of fighting the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) and rebuilding areas battered by the cyclone.
Modi’s remarks were seen as praise for Banerjee, one of his staunchest critics. “The government of India will work shoulder-to-shoulder with the state administration. We are announcing the release of an advance assistance fund of Rs 1,000 crore,” Modi said in Hindi after a review meeting in Basirhat in North 24 Parganas. Later, he announced immediate assistance of Rs 500 crore for Odisha.
Cyclone Amphan, the most severe storm in the Bay of Bengal since the super cyclone of 1999, has left a trail of destruction and damage in the two states. It made landfall around 20km east of Sagar Island in the Sunderbans on Wednesday afternoon, packing winds gusting to a top speed of 185 kilometres per hour, cutting off road links, snapping telecommunications, leaving parts of West Bengal without electricity, and inundating coastal hamlets. It killed about 80 people in West Bengal and at least two in Odisha.