PM Modi reaches West Bengal, will survey areas ravaged by Cyclone Amphan

Prime Minister Narendra Modi reached West Bengal, the first leg of his visit to survey the areas ravaged by Cyclone Amphan. PM Modi will conduct an aerial survey of the damage.

The Prime Minister deboarded the plane at Kolkata airport wearing a face mask. He was received by Governor Jagdeep Dhankar and Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee; they were also wearing face masks.

Banerjee asked the Prime Minister to declare Cyclone Amphan as a national disaster. She had earlier said that 80 people were killed in the state due to the cyclonic storm, according to news agency ANI.

The Prime Minister is stepping out after almost three months, officials said. His last tour was to Prayagraj and Chitrakoot in Uttar Pradesh on February 29.

The Prime Minister had announced a nationwide lockdown in March due to the coronavirus pandemic which has gripped India and the world. He had urged people to stay wherever they are. The lockdown has since been extended thrice, and PM Modi has not stepped out.

But this is like a national emergency, which is why the PM has decided to step out after 83 days, said officials. He will go to Kolkata and 24 North Parganas in West Bengal, they said.

“He will conduct aerial surveys and take part in review meetings, where aspects of relief and rehabilitation will be discussed,” the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) said in a tweet on Thursday night.

Cyclone Amphan has left 72 people dead and thousands homeless in West Bengal, battering several parts of the state and washing away bridges and swamping low-lying areas.

It also wreaked havoc in Odisha damaging power and telecom infrastructure in several coastal districts.

After West Bengal, the Prime Minister will go to Odisha in the afternoon.

Meanwhile, the extremely severe cyclonic storm has weakened and moved to Bangladesh, the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) said.

News of PM Modi’s decision came hours after West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee pitched for central assistance and appealed to PM Modi to visit the cyclone-hit areas. The state government had moved out five lakh people to shield them from the cyclone that roared into the state on Wednesday, packing winds gusting to a top speed of 185 kmph.

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