Cyclone Bulbul: BJP leaders visit affected areas, see TMC ‘bias’ in providing relief

The state government has already sent a preliminary report of the losses to the Centre, which will soon send a team to evaluate the condition and assess the losses. (Express Photo: Partha Paul)

Accusing the Mamata Banerjee-led state government of being biased in relief and rehabilitation work post Cyclone Bulbul, the state BJP Tuesday said that they are gathering ground reports from the affected areas and that a report will be sent to the Centre.

This comes a day after Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Monday constituted a task force, led by Chief Secretary Rajiva Sinha, to look into the relief and restoration work in the south Bengal districts and alerted the administration that people may try to “make political gain from the dissatisfaction of the people”.

Senior BJP leader and actor Joy Banerjee said said that the state leadership had directed its local leaders to visit the areas, affected by severe cyclone Bulbul, which struck the West Bengal coast last Saturday, and make an independent assessment of damages.

Accordingly, two senior BJP leaders visited North and South 24 Parganas, which are among the worst-affected districts, on Tuesday. Sabyasachi Dutta, who recently switched over to the BJP from the Trinamool Congress (TMC) went to Basirhat sub-division in North 24 Parganas, while Subrata Chatterjee went to Patharpratima block of South 24 Parganas.

After his visit, Dutta alleged the TMC government was doing the relief work like the erstwhile CPM regime when only the party supporters got help. “If you are a TMC worker, you will get relief and if you are not, you will get nothing. A woman complained about this to the Block Development Officer in front of me,” Dutta said.

He pointed out that the rehabilitation work was slow. “Everybody knew that Bulbul was coming. The government announced they are ready to face it, but even after 48 hours of the disaster, electricity couldn’t be restored. How can it be possible? And how the government is claiming that the administration is doing well,” he asked.

Joy Banerjee echoed Dutta: “Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee announced constitution of a task force to look into the relief and restoration work, but there is no arrangement for repairing houses and providing food.”

Also alleging that a section of ruling party leaders may try and usurp money sent for the relief, the BJP also asked all its Shakti Kendra pramukhs and mandal heads to keep a check on whether people are receiving proper relief.

“The detailed report of losses at booth levels will have to be sent to the central government. We do not trust the state government at all. During Aila (in 2009), we have seen a section of Trinamool Congress leaders and government officials making good fortune with the money given for relief and rehabilitation. The Prime Minister and Union home minister has promised all help and are sending huge funds. We have to ensure that the funds are not misused,” said Abhijit Das, party president of South 24 Parganas district (West). He added that reports would be sent from all districts where people suffered losses following Bulbul.

According to the state leadership direction, all local leaders should immediately visit the affected villages at booth levels and collect detailed report from the people who have suffered losses, including damage to houses, ponds and agricultural land, apart from household animals.

“One has to take details of each individual who has suffered losses and help them submit it to the office of the Block Development Officer with proper name and address. The report will have to be sent to district party office too,” a message by the state BJP read.

The BJP also asked the local leaders to see whether the party supporters and workers are being discriminated against, while getting relief from the state government. In such cases, case-specific complaints are to be sent to the district party office, they were directed.

The state government has already sent a preliminary report of the losses to the Centre, which will soon send a team to evaluate the condition and assess the losses. Union minister Babul Supriyo is scheduled to visit the affected areas on Wednesday.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah had spoken to Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee after the severe cyclone struck the state last weekend and assured her of all possible help.

The cyclone made landfall late on Saturday between Sagar Island of West Bengal and Khepupara in Bangladesh, and moved northwestwards into the neighbouring country over the Sunderban delta.

Supriyo to visit state today

Union Minister of State Babul Supiryo will visit the Bulbul-affected areas of the state on Wednesday.

Supriyo Tuesday said he has been asked by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to visit the cyclone-hit areas in West Bengal on Wednesday to look into the ground level situation.

“My visit is not an inspection of the relief work being carried out by the West government, but to find out the ground-level situation as a Union minister and an MP from Bengal,” Supriyo said, urging the ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC) “not to do politics” over his visit.

“The state government has been officially informed about my visit to coastal areas of South 24 Parganas district. I have been asked by Prime Minister Narendra Modiji to visit the areas,” Supriyo told PTI over phone.

The TMC leadership, when contacted, declined to comment on Supriyo’s visit. The toll in the state due to the natural calamity has risen to 14.