Kolkata: Severe rain lashed southern Bengal throughout Friday night and the whole of Saturday as cyclone ‘Komen’ made landfall in Bangladesh, and weakened into a depression and progressed inland.
Until now, 45 people have died and over 700,000 people have been left homeless as several districts of the state are reeling under the worst floods that the state has faced in several years.
The state government has announced a compensation of Rs400,000 (Dh22,961) for the relatives of those who died.
Speaking to reporters, chief minister Mamata Banerjee said the deaths were caused either by lightning, wall collapse, electrocution, snake bite or drowning since the onset of heavy to very heavy rain.
“The state has recorded excess rainfall of over 60 per cent during the monsoon months of June and July, of which July saw double the normal rainfall. The state has all possible measures to rescue those affected, to provide them with relief materials and restore normality as soon as the water recedes. The government is fully prepared to save people from this disaster,” Mamata said after a high-level review meeting with the officials.
However, the state continues to be on high alert as the meteorological department has predicted heavy rainfall in the next 48 hours. “Rain is expected to continue due to the deep depression, and high tides in the rivers have added to the discomfiture, I have asked my cabinet colleagues and the entire administration to be on alert,” the chief minister said.
Districts of Howrah, South 24 Parganas, Nadia, and East Midnapore have been severely affected as hundreds of villages remain submerged and over 30,000 people are sheltered in about 700 relief camps in different affected districts.
“Till now, 30,000 people have been rescued and several relief camps are in operations in the affected districts. the flooding has caused severe damage to crops and vegetables and the state is assessing the loss,” Mamata added.
Normal life was disrupted in the city of Kolkata, as most parts of the city were submerged under knee-deep water. The Meteorological Department recorded 133.6mm rainfall in the last 24 hours which has thrown road and rail traffic out of gear since early Saturday morning.
“Kolkata Municipal Corporation has been running 300 pumps from its permanent pumping stations in different parts of the city along with 360 more portable pumps to drain out the water. However still various parts of the city are water logged as high-tide along with heavy rainfall is slowing the drainage process,” said Tarak Singh, Mayor in-Council (drainage) member.
The water level in the Ganges recorded a high of 6.8 metres owing to a full moon yesterday combined with the heavy rain and release of water from the upper catchment areas, said a River Traffic Police officer.
“Train services at both the Howrah and Sealdah junctions of Eastern Railway were affected owing to the flooding of the tracks,” said Ravi Mahapatra, spokesperson for the Eastern Railways.
Several local trains had to be cancelled and mail and express trains to Kolkata had to be stopped as the tracks were flooded. Services to Kolkata station, another terminal in North Kolkata, had to be stalled due to the tracks being submerged, he added.
Services in various sectors, including banks and the private sector, were affected as most offices had to work with skeleton staff. Most of the schools and colleges remained shut for the day.