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Centre hikes Amphan aid to West Bengal

West Bengal government has been demanding a higher share for relief and rehabilitation post the destruction caused by the super cyclone Amphan

Eastern Times , New Delhi:  A high-powered committee headed by Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Friday sanctioned Rs 4,381 crore to six states in a cyclone-, flood- and landslide-relief package.

Besides West Bengal the other states to receive aid are Odisha, Sikkim, Maharashtra, Karnataka and Madhya Pradesh.

Mamata Banerjee-led West Bengal government has been demanding a higher share for relief and rehabilitation post the destruction caused by the super cyclone Amphan.

In the immediate aftermath of Amphan, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had announced a relief package of Rs 1,000 crore. Ahead of the 2021 West Bengal assembly election, the Centre has sanctioned an additional Rs 2,707 crore.

Super cyclone Amphan had struck West Bengal on May 18 and caused widespread havoc in Midnapore, 24 Parganas, Howrah and Hooghly districts. Neighbouring state Odisha and Bangladesh were also affected.

On a tour of cyclone-affected areas Narendra Modi had announced Rs 1,000 crore relief package on May 23. On November 13, the Centre sanctioned an additional Rs 2,707 crore from the National Disaster Response Fund.

“The state government had demanded Rs 1,02,000 crore from the Centre. Given the destruction caused this sum – Rs 3,707 crore – is nothing,” said Sukhendu Sekhar Ray, Trinamool Congress’s Rajya Sabha MP.

Listing the destruction caused by super cyclone Amphan Ray said: “Amphan destroyed 28.6 lakh houses. Crops spread over 17 lakh hectares were laid waste. Roads, bridges, water and power services were massively disrupted. Taking all this in account the state government had demanded Rs 1,02,000 crore.

We had initially spent Rs 6,350 crore on relief and rehabilitation. More was spent later from the state’s own exchequer. The Centre has not given even half the money we had demanded.”

However, thanking the central government Sukhendu Sekhar Ray said: “We are thankful for the central aid. But we will continue to demand more. We hope the Centre gives us at least 75% of our demand.”

West Bengal politicians and bureaucrats have long been saying that the central relief package for Amphan was not enough. Many believe the enhanced package announced on Friday was with assembly elections in mind. Polls will be held within the next six months.

However, there is a section that believes that Friday’s announcement is being unnecessarily politicised. In fact West Bengal is the only state among the six going to polls.

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