Cyclone Fani creates panic in Kolkata; mayor orders removal of hoardings
Hotel owners in tourist spots along West Bengal’s coastline such as Digha, Mandarmani, Tajpur and Shankarpur fear a loss of business even if their resorts escape the brunt of the storm’s fury.Updated: May 02, 2019, 16:47 IST
Mayor of Kolkata on Thursday directed advertisers to take down all hoardings in the city to prevent them from injuring people if they are dislodged by the force of strong winds as Cyclone Fani hurtled towards neighbouring Odisha’s Puri.
The decision was taken during a meeting of the Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC) in the city, about 500km away from Odisha’s coastal temple town of Puri, where the cyclone is supposed to make landfall on Friday.
“KMC will also evacuate the residents of the dilapidated buildings in the city and take them to nearby schools to prevent any loss of life,” Kolkata mayor Firhad Hakim said.
Hakim also said KMC will issue residential certificates in order to allay fears among some residents of such dilapidated buildings that real estate promoters may grab their houses if they vacate them.
KMC along with the departments of disaster management and irrigation have already cancelled the leaves of employees till further orders.
“The administration in seven to eight districts, especially in the coastal areas, is on high alert. The chief secretary held a meeting with all the relevant departments. There will be round the clock monitoring,” said chief minister Mamata Banerjee at an election rally in Rajarhat.
Hotel owners in tourist spots along West Bengal’s coastline such as Digha, Mandarmani, Tajpur and Shankarpur fear a loss of business even if their resorts escape the brunt of the storm’s fury.
Digha, Bengal’s most popular beach resort, is about 342 kilometres east of Puri and close to the Odisha border.
“There are about 650 hotels in the area that attracts average footfalls of about 0.2 million people every day. Even if you take a bare minimum of them spending Rs 600 per head per day, the direct loss of business is at least Rs 12 crore a day,” said Bipradas Chakrabarti, secretary of the Digha Shankarpur Hoteliers Association.
President of the association Girish Raut said many tourists have cancelled bookings following an alert about Cyclone Fani. Raut fears that even the thousands of tourists who take the four to five-hour drive to Digha and the other popular coastal town without prior reservations will desist from doing so over the next several days.
“We have arranged six rescue centres. We are urging tourists to leave, and in any case, not to venture near the sea till the weather becomes normal,” said Partha Ghosh, district magistrate in East Midnapore.