In fresh trouble for Bengal’s cyclone hit areas, squall kills two
A week after cyclone Amphan ravaged south Bengal, a squall raged through some of the same districts including Kolkata with a speed of nearly 100 km per hour on Wednesday evening, killing at least two persons and hampering cyclone relief work.
One person was killed and two others injured when a tree fell on them in Howrah. In another incident one person was killed and five others were injured when a wall collapsed during the squall that lasted about half an hour.
Some new pockets in parts of South 24 Parganas and North Parganas – the two worst cyclone-hit districts – have been inundated after the squall and heavy rains. In some villages which were already inundated since May 20, the water level increased following the squall which hampered relief work.
“Thousands of villagers who were living under polythene sheets and tarpaulins have once again been affected as the storm has blown away all the tarpaulin and polythene sheets. We need to distribute these items once again. Besides this the water level has risen which has worsened the condition,” said Sukumar Mahata, MLA of Sandeshkhali in North 24 Parganas.
Cyclone Amphan which had affected around eight districts had left more than one million homeless. Around 100 million have been affected. The state government has already distributed more than a million tarpaulin sheets to those whose houses have been damaged.
At Bagda in North 24 Parganas, dozens of irate villagers barged into the panchayat office and looted around 500 tarpaulin sheets.
It has been estimated that around 16 km of river embankments and around 4 km of sea dykes have been damaged by cyclone Amphan. Saline water had gushed into the villages during the cyclone and the storm surge it had triggered. More than 10 lakh hectares of croplands have been destroyed and large areas are still submerged.
“In four villages, every time the high tide comes, we have to plug the breaches in the river’s embankments with nearly 400 sandbags. When the water level falls during low tide, the sandbags are removed so that the water which had gushed into the villages during the storm and has got stranded, can be drained out. At least 80 people have been deployed in each of these four villages to do the job four times a day,” said S Mitra, the block development officer of Gosaba, one of the worst hit blocks in South 24 Parganas.
But soon after the squall and rain several pockets in the Sunderban and coastal districts got inundated again.
Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has asked the district administration to repair the embankments and dykes on a war-footing effort as the spring tide during the full moon on June 6 could further aggravate matters as was seen a month after cyclone Aila in 2009.