(Eds: Adding details) Basirhat (WB), May 22 (PTI) Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced an advance assistance of Rs 1,000 crore for cyclone-hit West Bengal on Friday, ravaged by a cyclone that claimed at least 77 lives and pulverised several southern districts, including state capital Kolkata.
Modi made an aerial survey of some of the cyclone-hit areas with Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar and Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.
After reviewing the situation at an official meeting with Dhankhar, Banerjee and the state's top officials in Basirhat in North 24 Parganas district, Modi also announced an ex-gratia of Rs 2 lakh to the families of each of those killed and Rs 50,000 for the injured.
Appreciating Banerjee's efforts in galvanising the state administration to deal with the natural disaster even while dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic, Modi said the whole country stands with West Bengal where nearly 80 people have lost lives despite measures taken by the government.
In a video message after reviewing the situation, Modi said,'I announce an advance assistance of Rs 1,000 crore for the state. A detailed survey will be conducted of the damage to agriculture, power and other sectors, besides damage to houses.' Large-scale damage to infrastructure, public and private property was reported from North and South 24 Parganas, East and West Midnapore, Kolkata, Howrah and Hooghly districts.
'In this time of distress and despair, the entire country and the Centre stand with the people of Bengal,' Modi said.
The Centre will deploy a team to assess the extent of damage in the state, the prime minister said.
He said the Centre is working closely with the state government during the crisis to rebuild destroyed and damaged infrastructure and to provide succour to people.
'Dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic requires social distancing, whereas battling the cyclone entails moving people to safer places,' Modi said, acknowledging the fact that the presence of a large number of people in relief shelters in the aftermath of the cyclone could defeat attempts at containing the viral disease.
The prime minister said West Bengal is fighting the crises well under Mamata Banerjee's leadership.
'We are all with West Bengal in these adverse times,' he said.
Union Ministers Babul Supriyo, Debasree Chaudhuri, Pratap Chandra Sarangi and Dharmendra Pradhan were also present at the meeting. PTI PNT SOM SK SK