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After Cyclone Amphan Devastation, West Bengal Seeks Army's Support to Restore Essential Services; 5 Columns Moved in

File photo: Men remove a fallen electricity pole from a road after cyclone Amphan made its landfall in South 24 Parganas district on West Bengal on Thursday. (Reuters)

File photo: Men remove a fallen electricity pole from a road after cyclone Amphan made its landfall in South 24 Parganas district on West Bengal on Thursday. (Reuters)

Officials said 10 new teams of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) are being rushed to Bengal in order to speed up the relief and rescue operations.

The Army was deployed in Kolkata and its neighbouring districts on Saturday for restoration of essential infrastructure and services in the wake of the destruction caused by Cyclone Amphan, said a defence official.

Five columns of the Army were deployed in different parts of the city and North and South 24 Parganas districts, he said. These three parts of the state reported the maximum damage due to the cyclone.

One column comprises 35 personnel, including officers and junior commissioned officers.

"The Indian Army has provided three columns to assist the Kolkata city administration in the aftermath of Cyclone Amphan," said the official.

The move came after the West Bengal government on Saturday sought the support of the Army, railways and port to restore essential infrastructure and services in the cyclone-ravaged areas. It also urged private entities to provide manpower and equipment for the purpose.

In a series of tweets, the Home Department said the state government has mobilised maximum strength in a unified command mode for immediate restoration of essential infrastructure and services.

"Army support has been called for; NDRF and SDRF teams deployed; Railways, Port and private sector too requested to supply teams and equipment (sic)," it said in a tweet.

Army personnel equipped with road and tree clearance equipment were deployed at Tollygunge, Ballygunge and Behala in south Kolkata, said the official. Army columns were also deployed for restoration work at New Town in North 24 Parganas district and at Diamond Harbour in South 24 Parganas district.

Officials said 10 new teams of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) are being rushed to Bengal in order to speed up the relief and rescue operations. They said the teams of the federal contingency force were sent after a written request was received by the Union Home Ministry from West Bengal's Principal Secretary Disaster Management and Civil Defence seeking deployment of additional teams in the state.

A total of 26 NDRF teams are currently deployed in six cyclone-affected districts of the state for restoration work and with the addition of the fresh ones the total number of teams will be 36.

The Home Department added that drinking water and drainage infrastructure are being restored fast and the Public Health Engineering Department has been asked to supply water pouches in areas where there is a crisis.

"Generators being hired where necessary. More than a hundred teams from multiple departments and bodies working for cutting of fallen trees which is the key to restoration of power in localities," it said.

"WBSEDCL & CESC asked to deploy maximal manpower, even while lockdown significantly affects the deployment potential of the latter. Police on high alert," it added.

The announcement came after protests in several parts of Kolkata and neighbouring districts over power and water crisis even three days after cyclone 'Amphan' hit the state.

Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has urged people to have patience as the administration was working tirelessly to restore normalcy.

Cyclone 'Amphan' has so far claimed 86 lives in the state and caused havoc in at least 14 districts, mainly in South 24 Parganas, Kolkata, North 24 Parganas and East Midnapore.

(With inputs from PTI)