Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Friday said West Bengal has suffered losses of more than Rs 1 lakh crore due to super cyclonic storm 'Amphan', which has killed 80 people and left thousands homeless in the state.
After conducting an aerial survey of some of the affected areas and attending a review meeting along with Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Basirhat in North 24 Parganas district, she said there is a need to work together at this hour of crisis.
"Most of the areas we surveyed were totally ravaged. I have briefed the prime minister in detail about the post-cyclone situation in the state," she told reporters at the airport after seeing off Modi.
The prime minister announced an advance interim assistance of Rs 1,000 crore for the state after the meeting.
"The prime minister has announced Rs 1,000 crore emergency fund... What's the package I don't know. I have told him that we will give him the details.
"It will take some time to assess the full overall situation but damage is of more than Rs 1 lakh crore," she said.
Banerjee said she 'reminded the prime minister about Rs 53,000 crore the central government owes to the state for various social security schemes'.
"If they (Centre) give some money to us, we can work," she said.
The chief minister said she showed Modi some photographs capturing the havoc caused by 'Amphan' in Kolkata.
Ahead of conducting the aerial survey with Modi, Banerjee contended that the calamity is 'more than a national disaster'.
She said it will take time to restore normalcy, with cyclone 'Amphan' having ravaged at least seven to eight districts in Bengal, and adversely impacting 60 per cent of the state's population.
"This is more than a national disaster. I have not seen such devastation in my life. Sixty per cent of people have been affected in West Bengal. More than six crore have been directly affected," Banerjee told reporters at the Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose International Airport where she had gone to receive Modi.
"It will take some time to restore normalcy... It's a catastrophe... severe disaster. Our officials and ministers are all working. Police are also working tirelessly. We are fighting three challenges -- there is lockdown, then there is COVID-19, and now this disaster. The villages have been entirely devastated," she noted.
The chief minister said that she will hold an administrative meeting with Modi at Basirhat in North 24 Parganas district, following the aerial survey.
The CM also said she will be visiting some of these places again on Saturday.
"All phone connections were snapped (after the cyclone struck). My landline was working, but there was no connectivity in my cell phone. It was that bad..." she said.
Talking more about the process of normalcy restoration in Bengal, Banerjee said the state has manpower and capacity to rise above the crisis.
"The districts have been totally damaged. All the embankments have been breached. Our challenge is to rescue (people) and restore operations here. We have our manpower and capacity. We will be able to do it successfully.
"Our municipal workers are also working on war footing. Don't worry, it (normalcy) will be restored," she said.
Banerjee further said President Ram Nath Kovind called her to enquire about the situation in the state.
'I sincerely thank the Hon'ble President of India @rashtrapatibhvn Shri Ram Nath Kovind Ji, for personally calling me to convey his support and concerns for the people of Bengal in this unprecedented time of crisis because of the cyclone. We are extremely grateful, Sir,' she tweeted later in the day.
Banerjee noted that Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik has also offered help.
'Dear @Naveen_Odisha Ji, extremely grateful for the kind words in these unprecedented times. As a fellow chief minister trying to restore the state post the cyclone, this is extremely warming,' the chief minister added.