Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday announced a ₹1000 crore assistance for cyclone ‘Yaas’ -hit Odisha, West Bengal and Jharkhand.
While ₹500 crore would be immediately given to Odisha, ₹500 crore was announced for West Bengal and Jharkhand, which would be released on the basis of the damage, said the Prime Minister’s Office in a statement.
The Centre would send an inter-ministerial team to visit the States to assess the extent of damage, based on which further assistance would be given, it said.
Soon after attending a review meeting with Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik here, Mr. Modi undertook an aerial survey of Bhadrak and Balasore districts battered by ‘Yaas’, en route to West Bengal.
Appreciating the preparedness and disaster management activities by Odisha, which resulted in minimal loss of lives, he, according to the statement, noted that the State embarked on long-term mitigation efforts to dealt with such natural disasters.
Mr. Modi mentioned that disaster mitigation had been given emphasis by the Finance Commission too by provisioning for mitigation funds to the tune of ₹30,000 crore.
He announced ex-gratia of ₹2 lakh to the next of kin of the deceased and ₹50,000 to the seriously injured in the cyclone.
Earlier, after meeting with Mr. Modi, Mr. Patnaik said Odisha did not want to burden the Centre at the peak of COVID-19 second wave by demanding immediate financial assistance for carrying out cyclone restoration works. He instead called for provisioning of assistance for long-term cyclone mitigation measures.
“As the country is at the peak of COVID-19 pandemic, we have not sought any immediate financial assistance to burden the Central government and would like to manage it through our own resources to tide over the crisis,” said Mr. Patnaik.
In a series of tweets, Mr. Patnaik thanked the Prime Minister for visiting the State. He said, “I have sought assistance for long-term measures to make Odisha disaster resilient as we are frequented by such climate hazards every year and highlighted State’s demand for disaster resilient power infrastructure and resilient coastal protection with storm surge resilient embankments.”
It needs to be mentioned that on May 1, the Centre had released ₹641.6 crore in advance as the first instalment of the Central share of the State Disaster Response Fund.
Disaster resilient power system
After the review meeting, Pradeep Kumar Jena, Special Relief Commissioner, elaborated that disaster resilient power system meant adoption of better technology and design preferably going in for underground power supply and strengthening of the power infrastructure.
“Similarly, though we have a 480-km long coastline, we have more than 1,600 km of saline embankment. Of which, about 400 to 450 km is vulnerable as it can give protection to a tidal surge of 2 to 2.5 metre. If the storm surge goes beyond that height, we will be unable to give protection to the coastal region. The model says Balasore district could receive a storm surge upto 7-8 metre high, for which we want a robust protection system,” Mr. Jena pointed out.
In 2019, when extremely severe cyclonic storm ‘Fani’ hit the Odisha coast, especially Puri district, the State government had come up with a demand for long-term disaster mitigation plan that required ₹17,000 crore from the Centre, including ₹10,000 crore for disaster resilient power infrastructure.
Similarly, after cyclone ‘Amphan’ hit four coastal districts in 2020, Odisha sought a ₹20,000 crore-package from the Centre to develop a disaster resilient infrastructure.
Governor Ganeshi Lal, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, Union Minister for Petroleum and Natural Gas Dharmendra Pradhan and Minister of State of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairying Pratap Chandra Sarangi were present at the meeting.