New moon tide to hit today, coastal districts of Bengal on alert
The West Bengal government has alerted three coastal districts of East Midnapore, North 24 Parganas and South 24 Parganas, as the perigean tide, coinciding with the new moon today, could send saline water from the sea again into some of the villages, inundating the low-lying areas.
The tide is expected to hit around 10am on Friday. According to the forecast of the Kolkata Port Trust, the water level may reach up to 5.1m at Sagar, located at the confluence of river Hooghly and the Bay of Bengal.
Chief minister Mamata Banerjee had earlier said that at least 20,000 people were to be evacuated from two islands – Sagar and Mousuni – where breaches in the embankments, caused by Cyclone Yaas on May 26, were yet to be repaired.
“We are all prepared. Villagers have been alerted. A few thousand people from some low-lying areas have been evacuated and shifted to relief camps. Most of the vulnerable and damaged portions of the embankments have been strengthened and repaired,” said Bankim Chandra Hazra, Sunderban affairs minister.
Cyclone Yaas, which coincided with the perigean spring tide on May 26, inflicted heavy damage to the river embankments in the Sunderbans, flooding several villages. Many are still inundated under a few feet of water. Over and above this, a low pressure has developed in the Bay of Bengal which may trigger rain. Monsoon is also likely to hit anytime.
In Kolkata too, the city’s civic body and police are on alert as river water may enter some of the low-lying areas, located along the banks of river Hooghly and the Tolly Canal. At Garden Reach near Kolkata, the tide height may hit 5.38m in the afternoon.
“The Kolkata municipal corporation and Kolkata police have taken all steps. School buildings have been kept open so that, if necessary, we can shift some of the slum dwellers from the low-lying areas. Pumps have been kept ready so that water can be drained out. The lock gates have been closed so that river water doesn’t enter when the water level rises,” said Firhad Hakim, state minister.
Officials, however, said another perigean tide that coincides with the full moon would hit around June 25 – 26. The height of the water would rise further during that tide. At Sagar, it may reach up to 5.67m.
“Such tides are nothing new but this time we are concerned because Cyclone Yaas has left breaches in the embankments through which the water may enter the villages,” said an official of the disaster management department.