The central government stands with West Bengal in these testing times and will provide immediate advance assistance of Rs 1,000 crore, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Friday during a visit to West Bengal and Odisha that had been battered by cyclone Amphan this week. This is PM Modi’s first outstation visit in nearly three months.
PM Modi was received at the airport by governor Jagdeep Dhankar and chief minister Mamata Banerjee who accompanied him on the aerial survey of some of the worst-affected parts of the state before landing near a school in Basirhat, 50 km from Kolkata airport.
PM Modi held a review meeting at the school where Mamata Banerjee pitched for greater central assistance to help people rebuild their lives. Banerjee said at least 80 people had been killed in Bengal due to the cyclone, many due to electrocution.
Clutching a map of the districts that had been hit hard due to the cyclone, Mamata Banerjee had, a short while earlier, told reporters that she wanted PM Modi to declare the havoc wrecked in the state due to the cyclone as a “national disaster”.
In government rules, there is no provision for such a notification but political parties in states hit by disasters routinely make this demand to underscore that the Centre should loosen the purse strings and give more assistance than would be permissible under disaster management rules.
Mamata Banerjee has complained for a few days that the centre should send the money fast. “We haven’t received any money to fight the Covid-19 pandemic till date,” the chief minister told reporters after cyclone Amphan left behind a trail of destruction and damage.
Help should arrive fast and not after 500 days, she told reporters at a Press conference on Thursday. It was at the same event that she had appealed to PM Modi to visit the state to see the damage for himself.
The Prime Minister’s Office didn’t acknowledge the invite, but tweeted PM Modi’s decision to visit Bengal and Odisha soon after.