The Mamata Banerjee government in West Bengal has requested the Indian Army to lend support in the immediate restoration of essential infrastructure and services devastated by Cyclone Amphan, one of the worst storms to have hit the State in centuries. In a series of tweets on Friday, the State Home Department called for the mobilisation of "maximum strength on 24x7 basis" to restore essential services like drinking water, sanitation, and power supply.
The government also asked for assistance from the Railways and the private sector in providing manpower and equipment. The department said hundreds of teams were already at work clearing the remains of uprooted trees and buildings felled and destroyed due to heavy rains brought by Amphan and wind speeds up to 190 km per hour that gushed through coastal Bengal, particularly Kolkata.
GOWB mobilizes maximum strength in unified command mode on 24×7basis for immediate restoration of essential infrastructure and services asap. Army support has been called for;NDRF and SDRF teams deployed; Rlys,Port & private sector too requested to supply teams and equipment(1/3)— HOME DEPARTMENT - GOVT. OF WEST BENGAL (@HomeBengal) May 23, 2020
The department added, "Drinking water and drainage infrastructure getting restored fast. PHE asked to supply water pouches in gap pockets. Generators being hired where necessary. More than a hundred teams from multiple departments and bodies working for cutting of fallen trees, which is the key to the restoration of power in localities. WBSEDCL & CESC asked to deploy maximal manpower, even while lockdown significantly affects the deployment potential of the latter. Police on high alert."
The plea for help comes after the Indian Air Force on Friday said it has readied 25 aircraft and 31 choppers for relief operations in areas affected by Cyclone Amphan. "The aircraft/helicopters were modified with the required equipment for undertaking relief operations and are on standby with the crew for quick deployment at various IAF bases," it said in a statement.
West Bengal Governor Jagdeep Dhankar was quick to welcome the move. Taking to Twitter, he said the government's decision was a "good move" in these "trying time".
A good move @MamataOfficial to seek support and assistance of Army. These are trying time and appeal to people to keep calm. Authorities must restore connectivity, electricity and other services at the earliest.— Governor West Bengal Jagdeep Dhankhar (@jdhankhar1) May 23, 2020
Cyclone Amphan which reported winds up to 190 kmph made landfall at the Digha coast of West Bengal at 2:30 pm on Wednesday, hitting Kolkata a few hours later. There were widespread power cuts in large parts of Kolkata, North 24 Parganas, and South Parganas. Mobile and internet services were also down in parts of the State as the Cyclone damaged several communication towers. At least 80 people have been killed in the calamity, while thousands are displaced.
Streets and homes in low lying areas of Kolkata were swamped with rainwater. Portions of several dilapidated buildings came crashing down in Kolkata and other parts of the state. Embankments in Sundarban delta were also breached as the surge whipped up by the cyclone inundated several kilometres of the island.