PM Modi announces Rs 500 cr advance relief for cyclone-hit Odisha

Bhubaneswar, May 22 (PTI) Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday announced an advance financial assistance of Rs 500 crore for cyclone-battered Odisha, where around 45 lakh people have been affected and scores of houses damaged by Amphan.

Assuring that the Centre will work 'shoulder-to-shoulder' with the state, Modi said Odisha will be provided all assistance for restoration and rebuilding of infrastructure in areas such as housing, agriculture, power and communication.

Soon after his arrival here, the prime minister spent around 90 minutes conducting an aerial survey of the cyclone-affected areas along with Governor Ganeshi Lal and Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik.

After returning from the aerial survey of Jagatsinghpur, Kendrapara, Bhadrak, Balasore, Jajpur and Mayurbhanj districts, Modi held a review meeting with the governor, chief minister and top state officials.

Union ministers Dharmendra Pradhan and Pratap Sarangi, among others, were also present at the meeting held at Biju Patnaik International Airport here.

Modi said an inter-ministerial central team will visit the state for a complete assessment of the damage caused by Amphan.

He said a thorough review of the post-cyclone situation will be conducted and priority given to long-term relief, restoration and rehabilitation measures in the affected areas.

'However, we have decided to provide advance assistance of Rs 500 crore to the state to meet the immediate requirements,' Modi said in a video message.

He said though the Odisha government has been able to save lives by preparing well in advance, the cyclone has caused damage to housing, power and infrastructure and agriculture sectors as it moved along the state's coast towards West Bengal.

The prime minister noted that the damage caused by the cyclone in Odisha was comparatively less than that in West Bengal.

'However, while passing along the Odisha coast towards Bengal, the fierce cyclone caused certain damages by hitting with its tail,' he said.

Modi also announced an ex-gratia of Rs 2 lakh for the next of kin of the deceased and Rs 50,000 for those seriously injured in the cyclone.

Complimenting Odisha's people, administration and chief minister for saving lives, he said the disaster posed a serious challenge for the state as it struck at a time when everyone is engaged in a formidable battle against COVID-19.

At the review meeting, the state government made a presentation about the preparations it had made to deal with Cyclone Amphan and the damage it had caused across sectors.

Amphan, which made landfall in West Bengal on Wednesday, left behind a trail of destruction in many parts of Odisha's coastal districts, flattening scores of houses, and damaging power infrastructure and crops.

Vast swathes of agricultural land have been inundated due to tidal ingress in Bhadrak and Balasore, while betel vines have been destroyed in Puri, Jagatsinghpur, Bhadrak and Balasore.

Amphan is considered to be the second major cyclone in the Bay of Bengal after the 1999 super cyclone that had claimed around 10,000 lives in Odisha and caused large-scale destruction in the state.

In 2019, Cyclone Fani had left at least 64 people dead and many homeless in the state besides impacting infrastructure in power, telecom, water supply and other vital sectors. PTI AAM SKN SOM DIV DIV