Bengal to evacuate 20k people ahead of new moon, full moon tides
The West Bengal government plans to evacuate at least 20,000 people from parts of South 24 Parganas district as the sea and river water may gush into some of the low-lying villages again through the breaches caused by cyclone Yaas to embankments. The water levels are expected to rise because of the monsoon and the spring tides linked to the new and full moon on June 11 and June 25 respectively.
Chief minister Mamata Banerjee has directed the district administration of South 24 Parganas to carry out the evacuations from the low-lying areas of Mousuni and Sagar islands before the tides hit.
A state irrigation department official said while embankments have been breached in around 317 places, around 50% of them could be plugged. “A stretch of 7.5 km in Mousuni and Sagar islands cannot be repaired till July-end. The water during the tides could gush in through these breaches. Hence people need to be evacuated,” said the official, requesting anonymity.
The state undertook one of the biggest evacuations drives ahead of cyclone Yaas, which hit the neighbouring Odisha on May 26, and evacuated around 1.5 million people to 14,000 relief camps.
As the water levels have receded, people are returning to their homes to reconstruct them. But an area under over 60 village panchayats in 14 blocks in the coastal districts and Sunderbans are still inundated.
“Over and above this if the river and sea waters gush in, because of the monsoon and spring tides of the new moon and full moon on June 11 and June 25, then once again the villages would get flooded,” said an official of the state disaster management department.
The tidal height at Sagar may reach up to 5.67m on the morning of June 25. During a normal high tide, the water level rises up to around 4.5m.
The water levels during spring tides (on the new moon and full moon) remain at least 1m-1.5m higher than the daily high tide level. Cyclone Yaas triggered a storm surge that was 2m-4m high over and above the spring tide level.
“We have suffered more damage this time because of the inundation and flooding than the damage caused by cyclone Amphan in May 2020,” Banerjee said at a review meeting last week.