Cyclone 'Bulbul': Centre not providing funds that are due to Bengal, says Mamata Banerjee
Kolkata, Nov 14: Alleging that the central government was not providing the funds which were due to the state, West Bengal Chief Minister on Thursday said the sum would have helped in carrying out relief work in areas hit by cyclone 'Bulbul'. Reiterating that no one should play politics over such issues, Banerjee expressed hope that Prime Minister Narendra Modi would keep his promise of assisting the state in the relief and rehabilitation efforts.
"Around Rs 17,000 crore is due to us from the Centre. If they had given us that due amount, we could have used that to carry out relief work," Banerjee told reporters at the state secretariat here.
The CM said she would write to the central government in connection with the dues. The Trinamool Congress supremo said the Centre was urged to send a team to take stock of the situation in the three affected districts - North and South 24 Parganas and East Midnapore. "I would also request the Centre to help us in this situation. We will send them our report after the central team completes their survey. The PM had earlier said he will help us. Let's hope (that he will keep his promise)," she said.
Banerjee claimed that the state government has incurred a loss of Rs 640 crore after the government failed to provide its due share of the central revenue. Apparently referring to Union minister Babul Supriyo's visit to the cyclone-ravaged areas in South 24 Parganas district on Wednesday that led to protests there,
Banerjee asked people to refrain from playing politics in relief distribution. "Instead of standing by the affected people, some are playing politics and indulging in vandalism. I would urge them to refrain from it. This is not the time for politics," the chief minister said. Without naming Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar, who earlier in the day shared the views of Banerjee that there should not be politics over the distribution of relief materials, she said some individuals were acting as the "BJP mouthpiece" and playing "a dirty game". "I generally do not comment on constitutional posts, but a few people (governors) are acting just like BJP mouthpieces.
In my state, too, you have seen what is going on - they want to run a parallel administration," Banerjee said. She also stressed that the central and the state governments have specific roles to play and the two should work together when the situation demands so. "The Centre and the state should work in a federal spirit to tackle the situation caused by the severe cyclone in the state. And no individual politician, or some people, who are BJP supporters, should play a dirty game," she said in an apparent reference to Supriyo's visit on Wednesday. Reacting to her remarks, Supriyo said it is the TMC which has been playing politics over distribution of relief materials. "We have extended every kind of support.
Both the prime minister and the home minister had called the CM and assured of all possible help. She should keep aside her ego and seek more central aid if needed. "But, TMC is engaged in dirty politics over my visit, as they are trying to hide the real ground situation. Several locals have complained about lack of relief material and food for the last four days," he alleged.
Six lakh people have been affected and over five lakh houses damaged due to the cyclone, which made landfall late on Saturday between Sagar Islands in West Bengal and Khepupara in Bangladesh. Altogether 14 people, including fishermen of a capsized trawler, died in the calamity. The chief minister said the administration is able to provide lanterns and kerosene to only 40,000 families, and asked the Centre for more lanterns.
Banerjee had on Wednesday announced one lantern and 5 litres of kerosene for each affected family in the state. Relief kits are also being prepared and would soon be delivered to them, she added. In the three affected districts, school examinations would be held in early December instead of late November. "Several schools are still submerged. How will the students go and appear for examinations? That is why the dates need to be rescheduled," she said.