Namkhana (West Bengal), May 26 (IANS) Railways Minister Mamata Banerjee Tuesday accused the West Bengal government of having failed to combat Cyclone Aila and said it could not draw up a master plan for floods and erosion despite being in power for 32 years.
'The state government has miserably failed to give succour to the cyclone-affected people. They lack a master plan to combat flood and erosion,' Banerjee told mediapersons aboard a launch after surveying some cyclone-hit villages of South 24 Parganas district.
She came down heavily on the state irrigation department, dubbing it 'callous'.
The floods here have become a yearly phenomenon. The state government does not carry out the repair of embankment,' the Trinamool Congress chief said.
Banerjee also ridiculed the Left Front government's announcement that four ministers were assigned to look into the crisis, saying 'none of them have cared to visit the spot'.
Aboard the launch on the Hatania-Doania River, Banerjee surveyed the situation in the badly affected Iswarpur, Dwarikanagar and Madanganje villages and sought to assure the people, who came in hordes to see her, that help was at hand.
Banerjee said 37,000 tarpaulin sheets were distributed and 50,000 more were needed.
'I spoke to Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee yesterday... following this, food packets are being dropped from helicopters,' she said.
She said 32,000 people have been temporarily housed in 100 relief camps at Patharpratima and 10,000 people took shelter in 32 temporary sheds at Namkhana.
To distribute food among the affected people, the district council had taken 30,000 quintals of food grains out of the stock kept for providing mid-day meals in schools, Banerjee said.
'Later on, we'll compensate by giving food grains to the schools from where we have taken the food stocks for the purpose of emergency relief,' she said.
Banerjee said there was need to set up permanent relief centres in South 24 Parganas district.
She said the district council, run by the Trinamool Congress, would place the proposal before the state government. If need be, funds from the MP Local Area Development scheme can also be utilised for setting up permanent relief camps.