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September 19, 2011

Chief Minister visits North Bengal to inspect earthquake damages, lends a supporting hand to Sikkim

Chief Minister visits North Bengal to inspect earthquake damages, lends a supporting hand to Sikkim

Kolkata, September 19:  An earthquake rocked Sikkim-Nepal border on Sunday evening. The earthquake which was recorded 6.8 on the Richter scale created colossal damage to lives and property. According to reports received so far 66 were feared dead and 150 injured. The epicenter of the quake was traced in Mangan, 64-kilometers away from Sikkim. The quake which lasted for nearly 40-minutes made its impact felt all over Paschimbanga and across various part of the country including Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat.

The intensity of the quake was so strong that the tremors were felt in parts of Bangladesh and Pakistan. Even the quake had some impact in Kolkata buildings situated in Ultadanga and Burrabazar.  However, entire North Bengal was badly hit by the quake due to the proximity to the epicenter. The situation worsens due to incessant rainfall in the area which delayed the rescue operations.

`I have spoken to Sikkim`s Chief Minister and assured him of all the cooperation required at the time of distress, both Sikkim and Paschimbanga are good friends and I want to tell the people of Sikkim that we are there beside them`, said Paschimbanga Chief Minister Ms. Mamata Banerjee immediately after the quake. The Chief Minister said that she was aggrieved about the situation in the quake affected places as she fears the landslide which follows after such disasters and that her government will do every possible thing to evacuate the people and provide relief operations. `I have asked Partha Chatterjee to leave for North Bengal and take stock of the situation and report to me. I will myself visit the affected regions in North Bengal and Sikkim if required`, added Ms. Banerjee. Immediately after this she convened a meeting and met Chief Secretary to review the situation on Sunday evening. `We have opened two control rooms, one for the city and the other for the state`, she added. Ms. Banerjee issued directives to all the district administrations in North Bengal to be on high alert and keep constant vigil on the situation.

Ms. Banerjee who came to her office at Writers’ Building on Monday earlier than schedule had a meeting with Chief Secretary and announced that she will be visiting the affected places later in the day. The Chief Minister wasted no time and set off for the airport from where she took the flight to Bagdogra. Immediately after reaching the Bagdogra airport Ms. Banerjee met the authorities and commence a meeting and left for Kurseong. Ms. Banerjee convened a half-an-hour meeting with the authorities in Kurseong, `I want the rescue operation to take place at war footing, please see that the houses are repaired immediately and till then make sure that these people are rehabilitated and taken care off`. Expressing her concern over the supply of drinking water, Ms. Banerjee called up the concerned authority and instructed them to repair the affected water line immediately and gave strictures to restore the supply of drinking water.  

The Chief Minister who reached Siliguri in the afternoon had a meeting with the authorities and discussed the relief measures. She also took rounds of the hospitals and enquired the conditions of the victims of the quake. She personally took rounds and asked if the victims required anything. The Chief Minister announced compensation for the next to kin of the deceased. `I took stock of the situation myself and find the relief work is going on satisfactorily. I have asked the authorities keep a vigil on the situation and keep me posted on the latest`, said Ms. Banerjee.

The Chief Minister will stay in Siliguri today and is expected to visit Sikkim later on Tuesday, `We are doing our best to help the affected in Sikkim. I am planing to visit the areas if possible tomorrow provided my visit doesn't obstruct in the way of rescue operations, besides it will take nearly three to four hours to reach the place and considering the poor roads my going via air will certainly hamper the relief operations. However, everything depends on the situation tomorrow when I will decide whether to proceed to Sikkim or postpone for the time being`.