The Union Home Ministry has decided to provide additional financial assistance to West Bengal to deal with the Amphan disaster. The decision was taken at a high-level meeting of the ministry on Friday (November 13).

A high-level committee, headed by Union Home Minister Amit Shah, has approved the release of nearly Rs 4,382 crore to six states as central assistance for the natural calamities they faced this year. The funds will be released to West Bengal, Odisha, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Sikkim as assistance for the damage caused by cyclone, floods and landslides during the year.

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No doubt Odisha had to suffer the onslaught of Amphan, but the fact remains that Bengal has been completely withered away. At least five districts will have to start the process of reinventing their foundation and structure. The worst are South 24 Paragana and North 24 Paragana — the two adjoining districts to Kolkata. 

For cyclone 'Amphan', Rs 2,707.77 crore has been approved for West Bengal and Rs 128.23 crore for Odisha. For cyclone 'Nisarga', Rs 268.59 crore has been approved for Maharashtra.

In addition, floods and landslides have been reported in Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh and Sikkim in the in the last few months. Approved funds will be distributed as needed among the disaster-stricken states. 

On 21 May, the Chief Minister of Bengal, Mamata Banerjee, announced that half of Bengal had been destroyed due to cyclone Amphan. The chief minister said, “Districts like North and South 24 Parganas, Howrah, Kolkata, West Midnapore, East Midnapore, even Purulia, Bankura have been affected by Amphan. In fact, the whole of South Bengal has been affected. 99 per cent of South 24 Parganas district has been wiped out.”

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Though Mamata Banerjee has put on record that state suffered a loss of nearly Rs 1 lakh crore, the intensity of the damage could simply be made out from the fact that nearly 72 persons have lost their lives to the Amphan cyclone; of these, 17 persons were killed alone in the heart of Kolkata.

In addition, the prime minister had also announced Rs 2 lakh ex-gratia for the next of kin of the dead and Rs 50,000 for the injured, which was over and above the ex-gratia provided through the State Disaster Response Fund (SDRF) and the NDRF, the statement said.

In all the six states, the central government had deputed Inter-Ministerial Central Teams (IMCTs) immediately after the calamities, without waiting for the receipt of memorandum from the affected states.