PM, Mamata Banerjee Meet Over Cyclone Aftermath, She Skips Review Meeting

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PM Modi and Mamata Banerjee last met on January 23, at the Victoria Memorial in Kolkata (File)

New Delhi:

Prime Minister Narendra Modi had a 15-minute meeting with Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee at Kalaikunda Air Base in Bengal’s West Midnapore district Friday. The two leaders were to hold a review meeting to assess damage caused by Cyclone Yaas, which tore through Bengal and Odisha this week.

Ms Banerjee, however, skipped that meet, only staying to give the Prime Minister a report on damages.

“Prime Minister called the meeting… we (her office) didn’t know. I had a meeting in Digha (but) I went to Kalaikunda and gave the report asking for Rs 20,000 crore. I told him you (state officials) wanted to meet me. I took his permission and left,” she was quoted by news agency ANI.

The 15-minute meeting was their first since the April-May Assembly election that Ms Banerjee’s Trinamool won, despite the opposition mounting a crass campaign fueled, in part, by the resignation of a large number of MPs, MLAs and ministers from the ruling party.

The last time they were face-to-face was on January 23 – at Kolkata’s Victoria Memorial to mark the 125th birth anniversary of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose. On that evening a furious Mamata Banerjee walked off-stage in a huff after her speech was interrupted with chants of “Jai Shri Ram.

Bengal governor Jagdeep Dhankhar, who has a running feud with Ms Banerjee, and Leader of the Opposition Suvendu Adhikari, her trusted aide before he joined the BJP, were at the meet she skipped.

The Prime Minister also took aerial surveys of regions affected by Yaas, which caused havoc across South and North 24 Paraganas, Digha, East Medinipur and Nandigram districts of the state.

He later announced Rs 1,000 crore for relief measures. Rs 500 crore is to be given immediately to Odisha, with equal sums for Bengal and Jharkhand. These will be released on the basis of damage.

Last week he announced Rs 1,000 crore for Gujarat, after the state was hit by Cyclone Tauktae.

Ms Banerjee said she would undertake her own surveys on Saturday.

She has pegged the damage to her state at Rs 15,000 crore – including the destruction of three lakh houses and 134 embankments – and has already announced a rescue package of Rs 1,000 crore.

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Cyclone Yaas tore through Bengal and Odisha this week, causing damage worth thousands of crores

The Prime Minister has already met Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik; the two met in Bhubaneswar this morning, after which he conducted an aerial survey in that state.

PM Modi issued a statement after his meeting with Mr Patnaik, in which he noted the effective role of central and states agencies in responding to the challenge posed by Yaas.

He advised all agencies to ensure the restoration of normal life in the affected areas as soon as possible and asked that relief material is disbursed to all persons affected by the cyclone.

Yaas made landfall on the north Odisha coast – about 20 km south of Balasore – on Wednesday with 130-140 km per hour winds and 150 km per hour gusts.

At least three people died as Yaas hit Odisha. A fourth person died in Bengal’s Digha town. Over 100 NDRF teams have been deployed across both states to help in rescue and relief efforts.

With input from PTI





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