Prakash Karat and Biman Basu, members of the Polit Bureau of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) visited Bhubaneswar on November 3 to assess the damage caused by the devastating cyclone which hit Orissa and discussed how relief activities can be organised with the Orissa state committee of the Party. They also visited the cyclone-hit areas in Bhubaneswar and Cuttack.
The scale of the devastation caused by the cyclone is unprecedented. Over one and a half crore people in eleven districts have been affected by the calamity. Stretching from Baleshwar district to Puri, the entire coastal belt of over 200 kms was hit by the storm. An earlier cyclone had hit Ganjam and Gajapati districts. In terms of the economic life of the state, the damage is incalculable. The standing crops in all affected areas have been destroyed. All coconut and banana trees have been uprooted. Among the cities, Cuttack has been badly affected. It is still not possible to come to an accurate estimate about the death toll. It is, however, clear that the maximum loss of life has been in Paradip and neighbouring areas.
After discussions, it was decided that the CPI(M) will organise relief work in selected centres. It was decided that immediately the CPI(M) Central Committee will send Rs. 10 lakhs worth of relief materials consisting of baby food, cotton blankets, clothes and polythene sheets. Rs. 5 lakhs cash will also be sent for relief and rehabilitation work.
In West Bengal, the Party has given a call on November 6 and 7 for fund collection. It is expected that the collection will be more than a crore of rupees. It was decided that supplies from West Bengal will include medicines, saris, children's garments, candles, match boxes etc. Six medical teams consisting of four doctors each and two junior doctors will be dispatched for running medical camps.
The Andhra Pradesh state committee of the Party will be sending a medical team to Paradip for running a medical camp there.
The West Bengal government has already sent Rs. 2.5 crores worth of materials to Orissa. According to reports, a total of Rs. 10 crores worth of relief material will be sent. On November 3, a team of West Bengal ministers consisting of Gautam Deb, Minister for Public Health and Housing and Satya Mahato, Minister for Relief visited Bhubaneswar and handed over a letter from the Chief Minister of West Bengal enclosing a cheque of Rs. 50 lakhs.
The Polit Bureau of the CPI(M) has appealed to all Party members and sympathisers to raise money and send drafts and cheques in the name of Communist Party of India (Marxist), Central Committee.