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Bengal gears up for cyclone

Administration facing problems as authorities are busy handling the coronavirus pandemic
Boats remain anchored on river Ganga in the backdrop of Howrah Bridge during the ongoing nationwide lockdown to curb the spread of coronavirus in Calcutta, Saturday, May 16, 2020.

Pranesh Sarkar   |   Calcutta   |   Published 16.05.20, 10:49 PM

The Bengal government has begun making arrangements like keeping cyclone centres ready, preparing to evacuate people from low-lying areas and arranging for dry food packets and water pouches in the coastal districts after the Centre warned the state that cyclonic storm Amphan could hit Bengal in the next couple of days.

Cabinet secretary Rajiv Gauba held a videoconference with senior officials from Bengal and Odisha on Saturday to take stock of the arrangements. “We have kept our arrangements ready. We request the fishermen not to venture into the sea or rivers for the next few days,” said Alapan Bandyopadhyay, the Bengal home secretary.

He said social distancing would be maintained at the centres, should people be shifted there. Some officials expressed doubts whether that would be possible, especially because people tend to bring their livestock along.

Sources in the Bengal government said the administration was facing problems because the authorities were busy handling the pandemic.

“We might have to evacuate hundreds of people living in the low-lying areas of East Midnapore and North and South 24-Parganas and take them to cyclone centres. The challenge is that we have to ensure that social distancing norms are maintained at the centres,” said an official.

An official said: “It has to be ensured that they get proper food and drinking water. Besides, the government has to give shelter to their cattle too. Maintaining social distancing will be a problem.”

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