Push for first-hand cyclone loss report
The Mamata Banerjee government has asked field officers of 14 departments to survey the three Bulbul-hit coastal districts and send feedback that will help in preparing a “near-perfect” report on the actual losses caused by the cyclone.
Such a comprehensive report will help the state present its claim for financial aid before the Centre more effectively.
The decision to send field officers was taken on Tuesday at a meeting chaired by state chief secretary Rajiva Sinha, a day before the chief minister’s scheduled visit to Basirhat to assess losses from the cyclone in the North 24-Parganas pocket. Mamata had visited the storm-lashed South 24-Parganas on Monday. East Midnapore is the other district to be affected.
The field workers have been asked to send their feedback to Nabanna. “The field workers have been asked to assess the losses. This will help us prepare a near-perfect report on the effect of the cyclone. This is required as the state wants to bring back normality as soon as possible,” said a senior official.
At Tuesday’s meeting of a state-level task force formed to carry out cyclone relief measures, it was decided at Nabanna in the presence of Sinha that the 14 departments would send representatives to the three districts to get a clear picture of the damage. The 14 departments are part of the task force.
“Once the field officers send their feedback to their departments, a comprehensive report will be prepared. Since it might take a few days to get ground-level reports, the state can specify the actual damage only after that,” said another official.
Sources explained the stress on the “actual picture”. “It was found in the past that the reports of the state and the central teams often varied because of exaggerated figures sent by local officers. Such a situation does not help the state in presenting its claim (for aid) before the Centre. The state government is cautious this time as a central team will also visit the affected areas soon to assess the damage,” said a source.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union home minister Amit Shah have spoken to the chief minister on the cyclone and promised all possible assistance. So, the sources said, the state is leaving no stone unturned to prepare a “near perfect” report on the actual losses to be presented to the Centre.
The departments from which the field officers would be drawn include PWD, agriculture, irrigation, panchayat, public health engineering, power, health and minor irrigation. They have been asked to visit the areas from Wednesday.
Representatives of the 14 departments will be present at the meeting the chief minister is slated to hold in Basirhat on Wednesday, a source said. “District-level officials of these departments will at the meeting present a preliminary report on the damage. The final report will be prepared after the field officers visit the affected places,” said the source.
The state government has already started work on some of the immediate relief programmes following the chief minister’s instructions.
“The first thing the government has started working on is to ensure safe drinking water for the affected people. The PHE has sent water pouches to the areas where people don’t have access to safe drinking water. Apart from that, water supply could be hit by two reasons — ruptured pipelines or snapped electricity connections. The PHE is working to resolve the issues in these areas with utmost urgency,” said an official.
Senior officials said the district magistrates of the three districts had also set up task forces at the local level, adding that the DMs were coordinating with Nabanna on a regular basis.
“So far, there is no complaint of delayed action by the district authorities. The affected people appear to be satisfied as relief material is reaching them on time,” said another source.