Central team starts for cyclone ravaged areas

June 6th, 2009 - 8:33 pm ICT by IANS  

Manmohan Singh Kolkata, June 6 (IANS) An 11-member central team, led by Joint Secretary, Home, Ashok Lavasa, set out for the Cyclone Aila-affected areas in North 24 Parganas, South 24 Parganas and Darjeeling districts of West Bengal Saturday.
The team broke up into small groups and left the city for the devastated zones soon ater preliminary discussions with state Finance Minister Asim Dasgupta and senior officials at the state secretariat.

“We had the initial discussions. They understand our concerns. They have selected the Aila hit areas they will visit,” Dasgupta said.

He said the team may later have a wrap-up discussions with the state government.

A three-member central team has left for the hill district of Darjeeling to see the havoc caused by landslides triggered by the cyclone, which had claimed 28 lives.

So far 133 deaths have been reported due to the cyclone, which tore through the state 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 8.7 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.

While Railways Minister Mamata Banerjee had pitched for the visit of the central team, Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee requested Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to send the delegation and sanction Rs.100 billion for relief and restoration work.

Bhattacharjee also discussed the devastation with Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee.

Besides, Dasgupta rushed to Delhi Wednesday and submitted a memorandum to the centre in support of the state’s demand for the grant.

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