Cyclone Amphan: All Precautionary Measures in Place, Bengal Govt Has Initiated Evacuation, Says Mamata

File photo of West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.

File photo of West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.

Teams of the disaster management department, NDRF and SDRF have been sent to vulnerable areas, Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee said, while urging those living in coastal areas to exercise caution over the next few days.

  • PTI Kolkata
  • Last Updated: May 19, 2020, 9:26 AM IST
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West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Monday said all precautionary steps, including evacuation of people from coastal areas, have been taken to deal with any eventuality arising out of cyclone Amphan, which is fast approaching the the state.

Teams of disaster management department, National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) and State Disaster Relief Force (SDRF) have been sent to the vulnerable areas, she said.

"We will be monitoring the situation for Cyclone Amphan 24X7. Chief Secretary Rajiva Sinha, Home Secretary Alapan Bandyopadhyay and the secretary of disaster management department will be keeping a close watch on the situation," Banerjee told reporters at the state secretariat.

A senior government official said relief materials, dry food and tarpaulin have been dispatched to the coastal areas of the state.

Cyclone 'Amphan' (pronounced UM-PUN) has intensified into a super cyclonic storm and is likely to move across the northeast Bay of Bengal, and cross the coasts of West Bengal and Bangladesh, between Digha and the Hatia island, on May 20, the IMD said.

The Met department, which has issued a "orange" warning for West Bengal, has cautioned against extensive damage in Kolkata, Hooghly, Howrah, South and North 24 Parganas and East Midnapore districts.

Earlier in the day, Prime Minister Narendra Modi chaired a high-level meeting to review the response preparedness to Cyclone Amphan, which was attended by the state resident commissioner.

But the chief minister said she had no information on the meeting. Banerjee said that the Union government did not follow the protocol while calling for the review meeting as it did not consult the state.

"I do not have much information... Even the chief secretary does not know," the chief minister said. "The rule is if you are calling any state official for a meeting, the government should be briefed about it, or it should be done in consultation with the chief secretary. Nobody was, however, consulted. I do not know whether it should be described as unconstitutional or not," the chief minister said.

Banerjee has been at loggerheads with the Modi government over various issues. "It is the state which is looking into the matter, what is a resident commissioner supposed to do.... Will he run the state government? I think the home minister was misled... . Only God knows what happened," she added.

The chief minister urged those living in the coastal areas of the state to exercise caution over the next three to four days.

"People residing in the coastal areas of South 24 Parganas, North 24 Parganas and East Midnapore, especially the ones living mud houses, should be careful.

"I have been told that the cyclone is gaining strength. We have instructed officials to convince people (living in the coastal areas) to shift to cyclone centres, as was done during Cyclone Bulbul, while keeping in mind the lockdown protocol.

"Teams of disaster management, NDRF, SDRF teams have been sent to the districts," Banerjee said.

The India Meteorological Department has warned of a storm surge of a height of about four-six metres above the astronomical tide, which would inundate the low-lying coastal areas of South and North 24 Parganas, and three-four metres in East Medinipur at the time of landfall.

At the meeting in Delhi, Prime Minister Modi took full stock of the situation and reviewed the measures as well as the evacuation plan presented by the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), a statement from the Prime Minister's Office said.

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