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Cong, Left Renew 'National Disaster' Status Demand For Amphan, Seek Immediate Aid From Centre

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)

Congress leader Abdul Mannan said the cyclone, if declared a national disaster, would invite more attention and help from international NGOs.

Demanding that Cyclone Amphan be declared a "national disaster", the opposition Congress and CPI(M) on Saturday urged the visiting central team to make a proper assessment of the damage to ensure the affected people get requisite aid from the Union government.

The BJP, which has emerged as the primary opposition party in Bengal after last year's Lok Sabha polls, however, said rather than debating the nomenclature, efforts should be made to ensure the monetary aid, which would be allotted by the Centre, reaches the beneficiaries.

A seven-member team, headed by Anuj Sharma, joint secretary (cyber and information security) in the Ministry of Home Affairs, visited the state on Friday to take stock of the cyclone-hit areas.

Left front leader in the assembly and CPI(M) MLA Sujan Chakraborty said the Union government should release a relief package at the earliest.

"We welcome the visit of the team and urge its members to take stock of the damage. We want the Centre to declare Amphan a national disaster. Whatever relief package is necessary to rebuild homes and rehabilitate people should be disbursed as soon as possible," he said.

Taking a dig at the Mamata Banerjee-led TMC, Chakraborty added, "Unlike those who opposed central help when our party was in power and Aila struck, we do not want to politicise a disaster."

Congress leader Abdul Mannan said the cyclone, if declared a national disaster, would invite more attention and help from international NGOs.

"There lies a wide gap between the CM's description of the situation in the aftermath of the cyclone and the response to the calamity by her administration and partymen.

"We visited Sagar islands on Thursday. In fact, we were the first ones to visit the area, which have been ravaged by the calamity," he said.

State Congress chief Somen Mitra said the central funds allotted following the careful study of the losses by the team should directly benefit the victims.

Cyclone Amphan battered parts of Bengal on May 20, leaving behind a trail of destruction.

The saffron party, on its part, said the money disbursed by the Union government should be deposited in the bank accounts of the beneficiaries.

"We are of the view that rather than spending time in deciding the category of the disaster, it is important to ensure that houses are built, and the affected get their due," state BJP president Dilip Ghosh said.

Alleging that the monetary relief doled out by the state did not reach the victims, he said, "We have requested the central team to appoint a nodal officer to audit all construction activities in the cyclone-damaged areas and deposit money in the accounts of those affected."

Alleging that the erstwhile Left-front government had also not utilised well the central help after Aila over 10 years ago, he said, "The same inconsistent policy is being followed in the cyclone-hit interior villages near Sunderbans, which experiences floods every year.

"No proper work was done after Cyclone Bulbul to stop erosion of embankments. Hence, we don't want the Union government to leave everything to the state," he added.