Cyclone Amphan leaves behind a trail of destruction in West Bengal and Odisha3 min read
KOLKATA: The super cyclone Amphan swept through the states of West Bengal and Odisha this week, wreaking havoc and procuring heavy damages in its wake.
The cyclone made a landfall in the Sundarbans, between Digha in West Bengal and Hatia island in Bangladesh, with a wind speed of 155-165 kmph that gusted to 185 kmph at its peak. It weakened into a deep depression on May 21, causing temperamental heavy rainfalls in the northeastern states, before finally weakening into a depression that passed through Bangladesh. Several neighbouring states received significant rainfall.
According to SN Pradhan, Chief, National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), the timely and accurate prediction of the India Meteorological Department (IMT) helped in minimising the damage. The governments in both the states took preventive measures and evacuated lakhs of people to several shelter camps before the disaster struck. “We faced some problems because of the COVID-19 situation but we overcame those because our staff and officers were very cooperative. The government here was very cooperative as well,” said Habibur Rahaman Biswas, Director, Meteorological Centre, Bhubaneswar, speaking to The Manipal Journal.
The damage in West Bengal is estimated to be worth Rs 1 lakh crore. While the Odisha government reported no loss of lives due to the cyclone, Mamata Banerjee, the Chief Minister of West Bengal, announced the loss of 72 lives in a video press conference. She also claimed that the impact of Amphan was worse than that of the COVID-19 pandemic in the state. The loss of property was colossal in the South 24 Parganas district which houses the Sundarbans. The districts of North 24 Parganas, Hooghly, Kolkata, East Midnapore and Howrah have also reported severe property injuries.
As per the information released by the Government of Odisha, a total of 1,19,075 people have been evacuated to 1,704 shelter camps within the state. Considering the magnitude of destruction, the lives of nearly 44.80 lakh people have been impinged upon. The district of Jagatsinghpur has been affected the most, followed by Balasore, Bhadrak, Jajpur, Mayurbhanj and Kendrapara.
“In these 50 years of my life, I have never seen something as devastating as this,” said Abhishek, a resident of West Bengal’s Bandel, where several huge trees, electricity transformers and electric poles were uprooted in many places. The increase in demand for rations amidst Amphan has caused a hike in the prices of many commodities. Many people are struggling to get essential items as all the shops and shacks have reduced to rubble. “I went to the market today only to find that nothing is available as every seller has been affected,” said Mohammad Rahman, another resident of Bandel.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited Odisha and West Bengal on May 22, 2020, to survey the situation aerially, accompanied by the governor and the chief minister in each state. He declared a Rs 1,000 crore interim relief package for West Bengal and a Rs 500 crore package for Odisha, and assured the states of the central government’s support. He also announced an ex gratia compensation of Rs 2 lakh to the families of the deceased in West Bengal.
With inputs from Hrishit Roy
Featured Image Courtesy: Hrishit Roy
Edited by: Mridula Kumar