The death count in severe cyclone 'Bulbul' rose to 10 in West Bengal as Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee conducted an aerial survey of the affected areas in South 24 Parganas district on Monday and later announced compensation of Rs 2 lakh each to the families of those killed in the storm that pounded the state two days back. Banerjee flew over the 'Bulbul'-hit areas in Kakdweep, Namkhana and Bakkhali in a helicopter and later held an administrative meeting at Kakdweep where she announced formation of a task force headed by Chief Secretary Rajiva Sinha to supervise the relief and restoration work.
Banerjee underlined the immediate need to ensure clean drinking water and medicines were available in the affected areas and power supply restored. She appreciated the way the 24 Parganas South administration tackled the severe cyclone and ensured minimum losses and appealed to the people to "stay positive". Bulbul has taken a toll of 10 lives in three districts - 24 Parganas North, 24 Parganas South and East Midnapore - and affected six lakh people.
The state government has already said 471 relief camps were now housing 1.78 lakh people who have been shifted from low-lying areas. Altogether 323 community kitchens were operational, while 94 boats were being used to help in relief work. "As per the latest reports, around six lakh people have been affected. The number could go up in the coming days as we get more reports," she said. "The way the district administration tackled the cyclone is praiseworthy. I don't know what would have happened otherwise," she said.
Banerjee directed the district magistrate to ensure the administration reached out to the people, and ensured proper distribution of relief. "You must see to it that the situation remained peaceful". "As of now, reports suggest that six lakh people have been affected by the cyclone. The number might increase in the days to come," she added. The Chief Minister will visit cyclone-affected areas of Basirhat in North 24 Parganas district on Wednesday.