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Bengal grapples with flood fury

West Bengal had no reason to cheer as heavy rain again lashed Kolkata and adjoining areas, aggravating the flood-like situation.
Hindustan Times | By Rathin Das
UPDATED ON JUL 05, 2007 05:05 AM IST

The flood situation in Gujarat eased on Wednesday as there was some respite from incessant rain since Tuesday night. But West Bengal had no reason to cheer as heavy rain again lashed Kolkata and adjoining areas, aggravating the flood-like situation.

Seventeen more deaths were reported in Gujarat during the last 24 hours, while eight people died in Bengal in rain-related incidents.

With the latest deaths, the toll in rain-related incidents in Gujarat touched 101 this season, state Revenue Minister Kaushik Patel told newspersons on Wednesday evening. Patel said as floodwaters had subsided in many areas, the government would now concentrate on relief measures.

Union Minister of State for Home Manikrao Gavit, along with GPCC president Bharatsinh Solanki and Leader of Opposition Arjun Modhvadia, conducted an aerial survey of many inundated areas of north Gujarat and parts of Bhavnagar, Junagadh and Amreli districts.

Chief Minister Narendra Modi, who returned from Switzerland on Wednesday, also surveyed the flooded areas. Modi announced a compensation of Rs 1 lakh each for those killed in the floods. He also announced fodder for the cattle in the affected areas for a week at a token price of Rs 1.

Though the water level in many rivers had receded, fresh rain in Mehsana and Patan districts inundated new areas, leaving many people stranded.

One Air Force helicopter had been deployed in the north Gujarat for rescuing marooned people. Over 120 people, who were stranded in Shariad village of Patan district, were successfully evacuated on Wednesday morning.

The National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) was also deployed in the affected areas. The state government had dispatched 216 medical teams with preventive medicines to check the outbreak of water-borne diseases.

An alert has been sounded in all the districts in south Bengal as the met office has predicted heavy showers over the next two days.

Normal life in Kolkata and adjacent districts remained paralysed as the skies opened up for the second day, aggravating the already worse situation. The government stepped up efforts to distribute relief material. Four persons, including a child, died after being struck by lightning in Bankura district. Two persons died in South 24 Parganas district and two more died in Howrah district.

With Kolkata having received 300 mm of rain since Monday night, a worried West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee told reporters: “There is a forecast of heavy rainfall in the next 48 hours. I have asked the administration to take steps (to cope with the situation).”

The met office predicted heavy to very heavy rainfall at isolated places in Gangetic West Bengal, including Kolkata, over the next two days due to the formation of a low-pressure area over northeast Bay of Bengal.

The rain-induced havoc saw Governor Gopalkrishna Gandhi coming out of the Raj Bhavan and visiting water-logged streets from Sukia Street in the north of the city to Mullickbazar and Tiljala in the south.

Flights of all airlines were delayed by 20-30 minutes, and Eastern Railway cancelled 115 trains from Howrah and Sealdah.

(With PTI inputs)

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