The cyclone Amphan that hit the eastern states of West Bengal and Odisha last week has caused massive damage and devastation to millions of people in the region. As per the preliminary estimates by the state governments, at least 86 people died and nearly 6 crore people are affected in West Bengal and about 45 lakh people are affected in Odisha with no reported casualties.
Amid COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown measures in place, the states are facing challenges in providing relief to the evacuated people and in restoration activities.
Amphan is the first super cyclone to form in the Bay of Bengal since 1999. Reportedly, the cyclone arrived with winds speeding up to 185km/h and waves were up to 15ft high.
In West Bengal, the cyclone caused landslides, fierce winds AND heavy rainfall that damaged thousands of houses, uprooted trees, damaged roads, electric and telecom infrastructure, destroyed large portions of cultivable lands and saline water has seeped into lakes and ponds. While seven districts in southern Bengal were hit by the cyclone, the major affected districts are South and North 24 Parganas and East Midnapore. State capital Kolkata witnessed massive damage to its urban infrastructure.
As per the West Bengal government’s estimates, the state witnessed around Rs 1 lakh crore of damage due to the cyclone.
Reportedly, the Sundarbans, mangroves spread over thousands of square kilometres in West Bengal and Bangladesh, have also been severely affected.
On May 25, the National Disaster Response Fund released Rs 1,000 crore to West Bengal and Rs 500 crore to Odisha for restoration activities in the wake of the damage caused by the cyclone.
As per the preliminary report on ‘restoration and damage assessment’ released by the Odisha government, 10 districts of the state- Balasore, Bhadrak, Kendrapada, Jagatsinghpur, Mayurbhanj, Cuttack, Jajpur, Keonjhar, Khurdha, and Puri were affected in cyclone Amphan. The districts have witnessed a substantial damage to power and telecom infrastructure. “As many as 9,833 villages, 1,558 gram panchayats in 92 blocks and 272 wards in 22 urban local bodies have been affected in 10 districts of the state,” stated the report.
The state assessment estimated that about one lakh hectares of crop area has been damaged. As the cyclone hit the state during harvest season, reportedly, betel vineyards, vegetable crops in Jagatsinghpur and Kendrapara districts have been severely damaged and rabi crops and vegetables have been damaged in Balasore district. According to a report by Odisha TV, “Saline water ingress under the influence of cyclone Amphan has also caused extensive damage to sunflower and moong cultivation in Chandbali, Dhamra and Basudevpur blocks of Bhadrak district.”
The state government estimated that 8,72,049 livestock were affected, 28 large animals, nine small animals, and 3,680 poultry birds perished in the cyclone.
“Around 500 houses have been fully damaged while 15,000 houses were partially damaged in the natural disaster,” stated the report.