A central team headed by a joint secretary of the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) will visit West Bengal to assess the damage caused by Cyclone Yaas, days after CM Mamata Banerjee abstained from a cyclone review meeting convened by Prime Minister Narendra Modi triggering a controversy. The very severe cyclone Yaas made landfall in Odisha on May 26 and affected a large part of the state as well as West Bengal.
A central team led by a joint secretary of the MHA will visit West Bengal for three days to assess the damage caused by the cyclone, a Home Ministry official said. The West Bengal chief minister had said, as per preliminary assessment, the cyclone had led to damage of an estimated Rs 20,000 crore to property and agriculture.
She had also said that 18 lakh people were affected by the cyclone and around 2.21 lakh hectares of crops and 71,560 hectares of horticulture area suffered damage. Prime Minister Narendra Modi conducted an aerial survey of the cyclone-affected area of West Bengal on May 28 and later called a review meeting at the Kalaikunda air force station.
However, the chief minister and the then chief secretary, Alapan Bandyopadhyay, a senior IAS officer, did not attend it, even though they met the prime minister for a few minutes. Following this, the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT), the cadre controlling ministry for the IAS officers, summoned Bandyopadhyay for serving in the central government.
However, he did not come to the capital and chose to retire on May 31, instead of accepting a three-month extension sanctioned to him by the state and central government. Subsequently, he was appointed as the chief advisor to the state government by Banerjee.
On May 31 itself, the MHA slapped a show-cause notice on Bandyopadhyay under a stringent provision of the Disaster Management Act that entails imprisonment for up to two years for abstaining from the meeting presided by the prime minister at Kalaikunda. Chief Minister Banerjee had alleged that the officer was targeted by the central government due to a “political vendetta”.
The ruling Trinamool Congress claimed that the Centre was wreaking vengeance on the West Bengal government and that the notice sent to Bandyopadhyay was an “illegal” move.