Flood situation in south Bengal turned grim Saturday with 1.19 lakh people taking shelter in relief camps in 12 districts of the state even as the MeT department forecast more heavy rains in the next two days.
“So far 966 relief camps have been set up that are sheltering 1.19 lakh affected people and another 124 medical camps have been opened,” Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said Saturday.
On the flood situation in the state after a review meeting, the chief minister said 12 districts in the Gangetic plains were affected, while the number of rain or flood-related deaths did not increase and stood at 39 people as reported yesterday.
Banerjee then left for Udaynarayanpur in Howrah district, which has been badly affected, to see the flood situation for herself. She is expected to visit more flood affected areas soon, officials said.
They said that so far 1.8 lakh houses have been damaged and crop was lost in over 2.10 lakh hectares of land due to the floods. State Urban Development Minister Firhad Hakim went to Arambagh in Hooghly district during the day and oversaw relief arrangements for the affected people.
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Other ministers have also been asked to visit flood affected areas to coordinate relief operations. Banerjee said her government would try to support the flood-affected people with its own resources as she was not hopeful about much help from the Centre.
“Did the Centre send any help for Darjeeling disaster (landslides last month)?” an annoyed Banerjee shot back when reporters asked her whether Centre’s assistance was sought. Flooding of farmland, towns and villages were reported from several districts of South Bengal like Howrah, Hooghly, Burdwan, Bankura, South 24 Parganas and East Midnapore with heavy downpour occurring in Gangetic West Bengal in the last few days.
Surya Kanta Mishra, the CPM state secretary and a politburo member, however, complained that relief did not reach the interior parts of the state. He said more advertisement was being done than actual work by the state government.
Trinamool Congress’s MLA from Gosaba, Jayanta Naskar said that many homes in Basanti and Gosaba areas have gone under water but adequate relief arrangements have been made.
Heavy rainfall also lashed Kolkata and adjoining areas since last evening and disrupted normal life, throwing road and rail traffic out of gear since early this morning as most parts of the city were submerged.
Arterial roads like Central Avenue, Park Street, Theatre Road, Hospital Road, Amherst Street and parts of Diamond Harbour Road were waterlogged, leading to traffic snarls. Kolkata Municipal Corporation is running 300 pumps from its permanent pumping stations in different parts of the city along with 360 more portable pumps to drain out the water, Member Mayor in-Council (Drainage) Tarak Singh said.
The MeT department recorded 143.2 mm rainfall in the last 24 hours till 5.30 pm Saturday and has forecast heavy to very heavy rains for another two days. The department said Cyclone ‘Komen’, which made landfall in Bangladesh on Thursday, remained practically stationary there and has weakened into a depression.
The water level in Ganga recorded a high of 6.8 m owing to a full moon yesterday combined with the heavy rains and release of water from upper catchment areas, said a River Traffic Police officer.
The high water level in the river hampered the draining of water from certain parts of the city, KMC officials said.
Moreover, train services at Howrah and Sealdah sections of Eastern Railway, too, were affected owing to the flooding of the tracks, said ER’s Chief Public Relation Officer, Ravi Mahapatra.
“At Sealdah, EMU local train services are delayed and we are running trains on Sunday schedule,” he said. That meant several EMU locals were cancelled due to lack of rakes, which were stuck in waterlogged car sheds. Mail and express trains to and from Howrah and Sealdah are delayed, but all the trains are running, he said. Train services at Kolkata station, another terminal in North Kolkata, are stalled due to the tracks going under water, he added.
Similarly, train services at Kolkata station were stalled as the tracks were inundated. All trains to and from it were diverted to Sealdah, except Hazarduari Lalgola Express, which was cancelled for the day, he said.
The city’s underground Metro Railway service was also affected for around 15 minutes Saturday morning due to mechanical problem of a rake at Bindra Sarobar Station early morning, said Mahapatra, CPRO, Metro Railway.