Nearly six crore people in West Bengal have been affected by Cyclone Amphan that devastated large parts of the state on Wednesday evening, and it is “worse than a national disaster”, chief minister Mamata Banerjee said on Saturday at an administrative meeting in Kakdwip of South 24 Parganas. The meeting was held to asses the extent of damage inflicted by cyclone Amphan in the district.

Banerjee said that the lives of many people could be saved as nearly three lakh people were evacuated to 5,000 relief camps. Relief and restoration work is on in full swing and detailed assessment of the damages is being done currently.

Nearly 10 lakh houses have been damaged and 73 lakh people have been affected in South 24 Parganas district alone. A joint survey is being conducted by agriculture, agricultural marketing, fisheries, horticulture and food processing departments to asses the amount of loses. Banerjee said that medicines like ORS, anti-venom medicines for snake bites, fever treatment must be kept in sufficient quantities. She asked the administration to include local people in the restoration work along with the workers of the MGNREGA projects.

“One challenge is fighting the disaster, and the other is getting everything back to normal after the disaster,” she said. About 41,676 electric poles have been damaged in the district along with 41 public water systems and 56 km of embankments and 32 embankment bridges. Nearly 3900 sq km of the Sunderbans area has been damaged. The CM asked the state environment and forest departments to work hand in hand in mangrove restoration and planting new trees in place of the lost ones. About 4,43,144 farmers have been affected and 1,09,577 hectares of cultivable land has been destroyed.

“Drinking water problems must be solved immediately. Water pouches are being distributed in areas where water systems have been damaged”, Banerjee said. She asked the district administration to increase the number of community kitchens for the homeless. If the ration shop of an area has been destroyed, a temporary arrangement must be made and self-help groups must be utilised to deliver ration to the people, she instructed.

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