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'Think Outside the Box': As Yaas Affects 1 Cr in Bengal, Mamata's 'Natural Ways' to Battle Cyclones

Cyclone Yaas: Flooding and heavy rains in coastal Digha-Shankarpur area in West Bengal.

Cyclone Yaas: Flooding and heavy rains in coastal Digha-Shankarpur area in West Bengal.

Formed a task force to find out a concrete solution to protect embankments, says Mamata Banerjee as Cyclone Yaas weakens from 'very severe cyclonic storm' to a 'severe cyclonic storm'.

Concerned over the extent of damage due to frequent cyclones like ‘Yaas’, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Wednesday has formed a task force to chalk out ‘natural ways’ to save embankments from natural calamities in future.

While having an administrative meeting to take stock of the post ‘Yaas’ situation, she said, “Every year cyclones are happening here. Bengal became the most affected State by the cyclone. It is causing a huge loss to the State exchequer. Today more than 138 embankments were damaged. It is not possible to build or repair embankments every year. I think we have to think out of the box. We have dealt with the problem differently and innovatively. I would like to request all to come forward with their innovative ideas so that we can reduce the extent of damage during such natural calamities.”

She said, “There are trees like mangroves which help in strengthening the embankments. This is just an example. There should be many innovative ways to preserve agricultural lands and irrigation from such disasters. We are getting information that several hectares of agricultural lands were destroyed after saltwater entered the farmland due to high tide which the embankments failed to sustain.”

“The Central government doesn’t give us funds to repair damaged embankments. We are still waiting for funds earmarked for Cyclone Amphan (which happened in 2020). I think we need a concrete solution to protect the embankments during such a crisis and therefore, today I am forming a task force under the leadership of Chief Secretary Alapan Bandhopadhyay. This task force will comprise officials from the forest, finance, home, disaster irrigation, agricultural and environment departments. Their job will be to come out with ideas on how effectively we can handle situations like cyclones in terms of saving the farmlands. They will also submit to me a detailed report on the extent of damage caused due to Cyclone ‘Yaas’. They will assess the damage and they will submit a report within 72 hours,” she added.

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The Chief Minister also said that she will personally visit some of the affected areas in Midnapore, South 24-Parganas, North 24-Parganas on May 28 including Hingalganj, Sundarban, Sagar, Digha.

Mamata said that the sectors like agriculture, electricity, fishery, animal husbandry, horticulture were the worst affected due to Cyclone ‘Yaas’. “The task force will assess the actual damage only after the field survey. Total 15 lakh people were evacuated. More than 1 crore people were affected by Cyclone ‘Yaas’,” she said while thanking nearly 3 lakh rescue and relief workers who are deployed at various places in Bengal to assist the affected people.

Mamata Banerjee instructed all the district officials to keep a close watch on the block level relief operation so that no one should be deprived of any kind of assistance provided by the State government. She also asked the district officials to provide adequate drinking water and food to all the affected people.

She urged people to stay alert for another two days. She also expressed condolence after a youth drowned while catching fish at Ramnagar-2 in East Midnapore. “One person has died ‘accidentally’ when he went out of the shelter home to catch fish,” the CM said.

The landfall process of Cyclone ‘Yaas’ started around 9.15 am at South of Balasore in Odisha and the entire process continued for 3 to 4 hours. Now, the ‘very severe cyclonic storm’ ‘Yaas’ has weakened into a ‘severe cyclonic storm’. It is likely to move north-northwest and weaken further into a ‘cyclonic storm’.

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first published:May 26, 2021, 17:50 IST