Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said on Thursday that the state has faced losses to the tune of Rs 15,000 crore, and announced the launch of her Duare-Tran (relief at doorstep) scheme next month, primarily aimed at reaching out to the affected people. Banerjee also allotted Rs 1,000 crore for relief work to be undertaken in the cyclone-hit areas, and said that more funds would be doled out if necessary.
“Going by the initial reports, we have found out that West Bengal has incurred a total loss of around Rs 15,000 crore. It will probably go up. “We need to conduct field survey which is still not possible as most of the places lay inundated. It will take some time (to get a final estimate," she said.
The CM further said that all calculations were done, taking into account the population density and concentration of agricultural fields in a region. “The government will run the ‘Duare Tran’ scheme at the panchayat and block level to help those genuinely affected by the cyclone. The process will start from June 3 once the water recedes," she pointed out.
The scheme will be run by those who had steered the ‘Duare Sarkar’ scheme, the CM said at the state secretariat. “Applications for the ‘Duare Tran’ scheme will be accepted from June 3 to June 18 by officers operating the camps during this period," she explained.
The TMC supremo also underlined that all applications would be “thoroughly verified" between June 18 and 30 to ensure no one misuses the scheme. “Only genuine cases will be entertained. We do not want anybody to get victimised. Doles would be distributed to people, irrespective of their religion, caste," Banerjee said.
The compensation would be deposited in the bank accounts of beneficiaries, starting July 1, and the entire process is expected to be completed by July 8, the CM said. “We will not carry out the process in haste to make sure that eligible people get due benefits. The verification will take 15 days," she said.
Referring to the ravages caused by Super Cyclone Amphan last year, Banerjee alleged that the Centre did not provide any financial aid, despite the administration submitting reports to Union government, pointing out that state incurred losses of Rs 37,000-crore. “We had to bear huge expenses last year after cyclone Amphan struck. We had given an estimate of Rs 37,000 crore to the Centre but got practically nothing. Later, we sought Rs 7,000 crore, and that request, too, went unheeded. What little the Centre gave us was our money (the money the state was supposed to get), and not something extra," she said.
Notably, the central government had provided Rs 1,000 crore in advance to West Bengal to deal with the devastation caused by Super Cyclone Amphan last May. The TMC government had last year received flak for alleged misappropriation of funds that were allotted for Cyclone Amphan-hit people.
Chief Secretary Alapan Bandopadhyay, on his part, said a total of 1.16 lakh hectare of agricultural land suffered damage, with losses pegged at Rs 2,000 crore, due to Wednesday’s storm surge.
Air and rail traffic have been affected on account of cyclone “Yaas" in Bihar which received moderate to heavy rains on Thursday and where the existing weather conditions are expected to continue for the next few days. Flight operations were suspended at the Patna airport in the evening after the city was lashed by a downpour, and an aviation official said resumption would take place only after reviewing the situation.
“Four flights have been cancelled on account of suspension of air traffic which is to remain in force at least till 2200 hours. The situation will be reviewed before a decision is taken on the resumption of flights", airport director Bhupesh Negi said in a statement. Air traffic has diminished in Bihar in the wake of the raging second wave of COVID 19 and the lockdowns which have been clamped in the wake at many places, including across the state.
Nonetheless, the airport here remains abuzz with activity with cargo aircraft carrying essential medical supplies landing frequently. Moreover, the East Central Railway (ECR) zone headquartered at Hajipur said in a release that several inter-state special trains have been cancelled in view of the weather disturbances expected in Bihar because of the cyclone.
According to ECR Chief Public Relations Officer Rajesh Kumar, nine such trains remained cancelled for the day, the running of six others had been put on hold since the previous day. According to the weather department, rain and thunderstorms are likely to lash the state for the next three days.
According to state water resources minister Sanjay Kumar Jha, a close vigil was being kept at embankments and hydraulic structures in anticipation of a rise in water levels of rivers because of rainfall. He also said the water levels were being monitored regularly and adequate deployment of manpower and logistics has been made for “flood fighting measures".
Two people died in Jharkhand’s capital Ranchi as their house collapsed amid incessant rainfall under the impact of cyclone ‘Yaas’, which had rampaged through the state after causing extensive damage in West Bengal and Odisha, a top official said on Thursday. At least 5,000 more people were evacuated from low- lying areas near rivers flowing above the danger mark in East Sighbhum, in addition to the 15,000 who were shifted to safer shelters, he said.
Close to eight lakh people have been affected by the cyclone and copius rain triggered by it, officials said. “Two persons have lost their lives in house collapse due to excessive rain in Ranchi, while a major bridge in Tamar has collapsed," Disaster Management Secretary Amitabh Kaushal told PTI.
Earlier, one person was killed due to lightning in Bokaro. Kaushal said rescue operations are still underway in several areas of Subarnrekha and Kharkhai in East Singhbhum.
Cyclone ‘Yaas’, packing winds of up to 130-145 kmph, whiplashed the country’s eastern coasts on Wednesday, before losing its force to an extent as it hollered on its destructive path to Jharkhand. “At least eight lakh people have been affected by the calamity in Simdega, East and West Singhbhum and Saraikela- Kharsawan districts. Eight teams of NDRF are involved in the rescue and relief efforts," he said.
East Singhbhum Deputy Commissioner Suraj Kumar said trees fell like nine pins in many areas, and strong winds snapped cables, causing power disruption. “Many of the low-lying regions are completely submerged, and we are also forcefully evacuating people from areas with heavy water-logging. We have imposed complete lockdown with some relaxations for emergency cases and essential services," Kumar said, adding, a flood cell has been created to oversee the situation.
R K Jenamani, a senior scientist of IMD, said the cyclone, which has now weakened into a depression, is hovering over south Jharkhand, 75 km west of Jamshedpur. “We have issued alerts for extremely heavy rainfall in certain places. In the last 24 hours, Chaibasa witnessed 207.8 mm rain, Mandar near Ranchi 182.2 mm, and the capital city 151 mm," he said.
As many as 500 teams constituted by the state government are carrying out relief operations across Jharkhand, the officials said. Director General of Police Neeraj Sinha said satellite phones have been provided to officers working in remote Naxal-hit areas so that communication is not hampered.
Chief Minister Hemant Soren has asked officials to be on their toes to deal with any eventuality. “District administrations and NDRF teams are on high vigil. People should stay indoors," he said. Health department officials said the COVID-19 vaccination drive has been suspended till Thursday in parts of the state in the wake of the downpour.
Forest, drinking water and sanitation, and electricity departments have also been asked to ensure that its services are not disrupted. ‘Yaas’ is the second cyclonic storm to hit the country within a week after ‘Tauktae’ tore into its western coast, causing death and destruction.