As Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee despatched her three newly-appointed ministers of state to the affected
areas on Saturday, Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee decided to survey the South 24 Parganas on
Sunday. A high-level meeting regarding relief and rehabilitation at the Writers’ Buildings also decided to send Finance Minister Dr Asim Dasgupta to Delhi shortly to lobby for more calamity funds.
Having surveyed Nimpith in South 24 Parganas immediately after the cyclone, Bhattacharjee is scheduled to visit Gosaba in the district on Sunday.
The CPM and Trinamool Congress have also been busy pulling their strings to have a control over the funds released for relief and rehabilitation work in the affected areas. The Left Front government has already demanded a relief package of Rs 1,000 crore while Mamata Banerjee urged her “friends” in the Union government as well as the Prime Minister that funds should not be channelised through the state government and instead should be sent directly to the district magistrates.
“The state government is in the habit of misusing Central funds. We want the money to go straight to the panchayats,” Mamata had said a few days ago.
The CPM has vehemently opposed Mamata’s plea. The CM met Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee on Friday and urged him to release Rs 1,000 crore, as sought by the state government, as early as possible.
According to reports, a Central team will soon visit the storm-hit areas for an on-the-spot survey of the damages caused by Aila.
“What the opposition is asking is unconstitutional. It is the state government’s duty and responsibility to provide relief and rehabilitation packages. We have already spent over Rs 4 crore and need more funds from the centre. Over 53 lakh people have been affected in the state,” said Asim Dasgupta.
He said more food packets, water pouches and
medicines were being sent to the affected areas. The state government, meanwhile, decided to rebuild 400 kilometres of embankments destroyed by the cyclone in the mangrove forests of Sundarbans to save the region from any possible flood during the coming monsoon.
“We will try to finish the work within the next one week,” said Irrigation Minister Subhas Naskar, who surveyed villages in the Sundarbans on Saturday.
Nearly 350 kilometres of embankments were destroyed in South 24 Parganas due to Aila and another 50 km in the neighbouring North 24 Parganas.