As the country reeled under the damage of Coronavirus pandemic and the migrant crisis, another calamity was just waiting to happen in the form of Cyclone Amphan that originated in Bay of Bengal and descended on the shores of West Bengal and Orissa in addition to Bangladesh.
Cyclone Amphan affected 4.5 million people across 1,500 villages in Odisha while the state government has asked officials to submit reports about the damages caused in two days.
It also damaged several parts of West Bengal, including capital Kolkata, killing at least 100 people. Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said she had never seen this level of devastation in her lifetime as she requested the Narendra Modi government at the Centre for help.
In a live video session hours after the cyclone made landfall and affected at least seven districts, the CM said she was “shocked” to see such a massive disaster. She stressed the cyclone’s “unexpected scale” several times during the session.
Most of South 24 Parganas district has been wiped out and several structures of the newly-constructed secretariat building have been damaged too.
It was so strong that it tore down power lines, uprooted trees, caused flooding, triggered mass evacuations and left dozens dead and thousands homeless.
Odisha chief secretary Asit Tripathy said that there was no loss of lives in the state even as the cyclone brought a heavy downpour and winds speeding up to 100 kph in some coastal areas. Experts believe it was the most powerful cyclone to strike eastern India and Bangladesh in over a decade.
PM Modi will be visiting West Bengal and Orissa to assess the damage caused by the Cyclone. “No stone will be left unturned in helping the affected. Top officials are closely monitoring the situation and working in close coordination with the Bengal government,” PM Modi tweeted even as the state government created a Rs 1,000-crore fund to repair damaged embankments and houses and restore water supply to the affected areas.
Mamata Banerjee has expressed that this is a bigger disaster than COVID-19. It is time to forget politics and help the people. She also added that it will take at least three to four days to assess the extent of damage.
Some estimates are even putting the losses at around 1 lakh crore but it will take weeks before the actual damages by the calamity are calculated.
Odisha government also praised India Meteorological Department (IMD), saying weather forecast is getting better with time, a day after cyclone ‘Amphan’ rolled past its coast causing minimal damage in the state. The government thanked IMD’s Director General Mrutyunjay Mohapatra for accurate predictions.
The IMD’s predictions on the cyclone’s trajectory, wind speed as well as its character in sea and impact were “to the point” and “accurate” which helped the state in making required preparation to face the calamity, Odisha’s Chief Secretary A K Tripathy said.