The India Meteorological Department (IMD) issued a red alert for very heavy rains in some districts of south Bengal for Tuesday and Wednesday as a low-pressure system has developed over the Bay of Bengal and adjoining coastal areas of West Bengal.
In South 24 Parganas, one of the three coastal districts in West Bengal, more than 35,000 people were evacuated from low lying areas, even as the local administration in East Midnapore and North 24 Parganas were keeping the relief shelters ready while maintaining a close watch on the situation.
“While red alert, the highest form of alert in the four graded rain alert system, was sounded for three districts – East Midnapore, West Midnapore and South 24 Parganas – on Tuesday, for Wednesday it has been sounded for West Midnapore and Jhargram where there could be rainfall up to 200mm,” said an IMD official in Kolkata
Similarly, orange alert, the next category of alert, has also been sounded for multiple districts in south Bengal such as North 24 Parganas, South 24 Parganas, Bankura and Purulia, among others.
Till 5:30 pm, Kolkata and its adjoining areas such as Dum Dum and Salt Lake received very light rain. Kolkata received 1.8mm of rainfall in the last 24 hours.
“Even though a low-pressure system is common during the monsoon, the district administrations, particularly in the coastal areas and a few other districts, swung into action as large areas are still inundated because of last week’s heavy rain. It was the heaviest rain in September in one day in Kolkata for 14 years. More rains could aggravate matters,” said a senior official of the state’s disaster management department.
West Bengal didn’t have to bear the direct brunt of cyclone Gulab which hit Andhra Pradesh on September 26. The IMD however had predicted that a cyclone circulation would develop over the sea around September 27 which could trigger a low-pressure system. The low-pressure system would bring heavy to very heavy rain in south Bengal.
“There could be water logging in low lying areas, damage to standing crops and mud houses and lightning. People have been advised to stay indoors and avoid waterlogged areas and dilapidated houses,” the IMD official said.
The Bhawanipore by-election, from where Mamata Banerjee is contesting to retain her chief ministership, is scheduled on September 30. There is, however, no warning of heavy rain on that day in Kolkata.
Over the past one week, some districts received more than three times excess rain over the climatic normal. More than a dozen were killed due to electrocution in water-logged areas in various districts. At least 120,000 people had to be evacuated from two districts.
The Kolkata Police have set up a unified command centre at its headquarters. Officials from the fire brigade, public works department, power supply corporation, city’s civic body and police would remain stationed at the centre. At least 22 teams have been formed.
Officials said that special care is being taken for Bhabanipur in south Kolkata to avoid any waterlogging.
“Heavy rains are expected. But even then I would request you to go to the booth with an umbrella and wearing a mask to cast your vote. Don’t waste a single vote,” chief minister Mamata Banerjee said last week.
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