Kolkata: West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Monday pointed out that the Centre, despite promising all forms of assistance to combat Cyclone Yaas, has agreed to provide an advance of only Rs 400 crore, while smaller states such as Odisha and Andhra Pradesh are being given Rs 600 each.
Banerjee, following a meeting of Home Minister Amit Shah with chief ministers of Andhra Pradesh, Odisha and Bengal and the Lieutenant Governor of Andaman and Nicobar Islands, said her state, which is more densely populated, was facing “repeated discrimination”.
“We had a meeting with Amit Shah-ji this morning. The Centre is providing more than Rs 600-crore each to Odisha and Andhra Pradesh, and only Rs 400 crore-something to Bengal to fight Cyclone Yaas. This is money being paid in advance, something the states are supposed to get.
“At the meeting, I sought to know why Bengal, despite being a bigger state than Odisha and Andhra Pradesh — both in terms of population density and number of districts — is getting less? Why are we being deprived repeatedly?” Banerjee told reporters at the state secretariat.
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She said that Shah had promised to extend full cooperation, but when it came to announcing advance funds for the states, Bengal got less.
“Odisha and Andhra Pradesh are my sister states. I do not have any problem with what the Centre is offering to them. That said, can you compare UP with Pondicherry? It depends on the population density, history, geography and the boundaries,” she said.
The CM further said that Shah, on hearing her argument, stated that “scientific views are taken into consideration” before arriving at such decisions.
“The home minister told me that the matter will be discussed later. He also said that it depends on scientific view… I did not reply to that because I have knowledge about political science, but not much on this subject,” she said, in an apparent dig at Shah.
Continuing her tirade against the Centre, the TMC supremo claimed that the BJP-led Union government, in the past, failed to provide her administration with any assistance after Cyclone Bulbul hit the state in 2019, and in the aftermath of the Cyclone Amphan-led devastation.
She clarified that funds of Rs 1,000-crore provided by the Centre last year, following the ravages caused by Cyclone Amphan, was something it owed to the state, and not an additional assistance.
Banerjee also maintained that her government was battling the COVID-19 pandemic on its own.
Noting that the state government would conduct a survey after Cyclone Yaas strikes the state, she said, “A report would be sent (to the Centre) following the assessment. We do not know if we would be receiving any help, but the report would be submitted.”
A deep depression over the Bay of Bengal has intensified into cyclonic storm ”Yaas” and is likely to cross the Odisha-Bengal coasts on May 26 after turning into a very severe cyclonic storm, the MeT department has said