KOLKATA,25th MAY: Bengal Left Front has called for a massive statewide collection of funds and relief materials from 28 May to 3 June 2009 for the relief and rehabilitation of the hundreds of thousands of people of Bengal, especially south Bengal, in the aftermath of the cyclonic storm and typhoon Ayela.
The storm struck the coastline of Bengal after suddenly making a left turn even as everyone including meteorologists thought that it had taken a right turn as such storms usually do to invade coastal Bangladesh. This effectively prevented evacuation of people from areas that were subsequently affected.
As we file this report, we have received news of 40 dead including three in the city itself as uprooted trees and electricity and other service poles keeled over, killing people, and destroying houses. Large area had to have electricity shut off for fear of electrocution. Snapping of cable lines meant the Bengal left Front government could not utilise the TV channels to issue warnings and other relevant information to the coastal districts in particular.
In the affected districts, more than several lakh of people are affected, shelterless, and dependent on the dry food and tarpaulins that the LF government has hastened out to the importunate. The worse of the storm damage was done on 25 and 26 May although we hear from north Bengal that rain has restarted in places like the dooars and the terai and in great earnest.
The Left Front has called upon all of its units and the units of the component political parties to go forth into the midst of the affected people and help the process of rebuilding of their shattered lives. LF chairman Biman Basu visited several flood-affected areas of Kolkata and the surrounding districts.
Chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee went to Nimpith in south 24 Parganas to take a meeting with the local people to gauge the depth and width of the damage and the measures necessary to relieve the people in their dire stressful conditions. Finance minister Dr Asim Dasgupta visited both north 24 Parganas and east Midnapore as last reports came in.
The Bengal LF has appealed to the people irrespective of political affiliation to come forward with help for the affected. It has also urged upon the union government to offer help to the state in its hour of crisis.