West Bengal government calls all-party meet on Aila (Lead)

June 6th, 2009 - 12:48 am ICT by IANS  

Kolkata, June 5 (IANS) With thousands fleeing the coastal areas amid fears of another cyclone, the West Bengal government has convened an all-party meeting on Sunday to discuss relief and rehabilitation in the areas devastated by Cyclone Aila 10 days ago. The main opposition Trinamool Congress announced Friday it would not participate in the meeting.
“The meeting will be held at the secretariat Sunday. We will inform the parties of the measures taken by the government for relief and rehabilitation. We will also listen to suggestions from the other parties,” Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee’s personal secretary Subesh Das told newspersons here.

Hundreds of thousands of people have reportedly fled remote areas of South 24 Parganas district following weather forecast of another low pressure area forming over the Bay of Bengal and the high full moon tide - giving rise to fears that the coastal districts may be swamped again June 6.

There are reports of people fleeing villages in Gosaba and Pathapratima, fearing fresh inundation.

The state government has started shifting people from the Aila-hit areas while keeping ready mechanised boats and helicopters to rescue the people and set up more camps if people are rendered homeless again due to nature’s fury.

It is feared that the high full moon tide could hit areas like Kakdwip, Gosaba, Hingalganj and Sandeshkhali in the two districts of North and South 24 Parganas that were ravaged by Aila May 25.

However, the Trinamool Congress ridiculed the move saying the meeting has been convened only to add some semblance of credibility to the Left Front government’s “shoddy handling” of the relief work.

“The relief operations of the CPI-M-led government are a saga of failure, incompetence and negligence,” Leader of Opposition in the assembly and Trinamool heavyweight Partha Chattopadhyay told IANS Friday night.

“Trinamool is not ready to give the government any such stamp of approval, And why has the government called the meeting after everything is over? They could have convened it two-three days back,” he said.

Trinamool Congress’ alliance partner Congress will announce its decision on attending the deliberations Saturday.

So far, 128 deaths have been reported due to Cyclone Aila, which tore through extensive parts of West Bengal May 25, levelling houses, uprooting trees, snapping power cables and leaving a trail of destruction in 13 of its 19 districts.

Nearly 600,000 houses have been damaged in the calamity which has affected over six million people.

South 24 Parganas - where the Sundarbans take up most of the area - and North 24 Parganas districts were the worst-hit in the cyclone. Hundreds of villages continue to be marooned with salt water intrusion destroying the paddy crop and freshwater fish.

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