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May 22, 2015

Disaster management in West Bengal

Disaster management in West Bengal

Disaster management in West Bengal is something which is essentially a contribution of the Trinamool Government. This Government has set up a proper system of managing disasters, something which never existed before.

Through doing things like building relief shelters, setting up disaster management teams and keeping them on alert, setting up stores for provisions for requirement during disasters, and other such measures, the State Government has done a lot for disaster preparedness.

Increased spending

The Government of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has given a lot of importance to the Department of Disaster Management. If one does a comparison with the Left Front Government, during its last four years, it spent Rs 32,59,73,000, which comes down to Rs 8,14,93,000 per year on an average. Further, if one compares the allocation in 2007-08 and 2010-11 (the last year of Left Front rule), one finds that the allocation remained almost unchanged – Rs 8,20,35,000 and Rs 8,80,87,000.

Now, compare this with the allocations by the Trinamool Government. The total spend during the first four years amounts to Rs 61,27,23,000, almost double the amount spent by the earlier Government during its last four years. That comes to Rs 15,31,81,000 per year on an average. The allocation for 2015-16 has been pegged at Rs 110 crore, an increase of 286% over 2014-15. Therefore, it is clear from these figures the amount of important the Trinamool Government attaches to disaster management.

Increase in unplanned allocation

Besides the planned allocations in the budgets, unplanned allocations for immediate relief has also increased under the present State Government. For example, Food Minister Purnendu Basu announced on April 18, 2015 that the Government would provide relief to the tune of Rs 69 crore to cover the 50,596 hectares of crops destroyed during the nor’wester.

Towards this non-plan allocation for disaster relief during the last four years of the Left Front rule, the spend was 1528,51,38,000, whereas the allocation during the first four years of the Trinamool Government has been Rs 2866,19,81,000, an increase of more than 88%.

Spending by the Department of Disaster Management

In terms of the spending, the department has performed much better under the Trinamool Government. During its last three years, the Left Front Government built 24 shelters; compare this with the number of such shelters built during first three years of the Trinamool Government – 176! Monetary help for disaster-affected people was provided by the Left Front government to the tune of Rs 1463,40,00,000 during its last three years. The Trinamool Government, on the other hand, during its first three years, provided Rs 4495 crore worth monetary relief, more than three times the previous amount.

Further, the Trinamool Government, during its first three years, provided disaster relief ‘kits’ (comprising things like tents, clothes, cooking and eating utensils, and food) to 30,000 people. On the other hand, the Left Front, during its last three years, spent nothing on these heads.

Prepared for the future

For 2015-16, the State Government has spent Rs 649,90,00,000 towards the creation of the National Cyclone Risk Mitigation Project (Phase-2). Currently, the sea-affected districts of North and South 24-Parganas and East Medinipur have been included under this project. A hundred and fifty cyclone shelters would be built. In 2015-16, in the sea-facing blocks of South 24-Parganas district, 25 cyclone shelters would be built at a cost of Rs 95 crore under the Integrated Coastal Zone Management Project.

Therefore, it is clear from these comprehensive data that the Mamata Banerjee Government has attached enormous importance to the aspect of disaster relief in West Bengal. After all, she has always professed to have worked for the people.