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Dams swamp villages, IAF joins rescue work

The flood victims are facing dire circumstances which have forced them to use the floodwater for drinking purposes which have further sparked off concerns of an epidemic outbreak. Ghatal residents claim it is the only way they can survive since leaving their houses have ceased to become an option …

Statesman News Service | Kolkata/Burdwan |

Panchayat minister Subrata Mukherjee today visited some of the inundated areas following the release of huge quantities of water by the DVC and Durgapur barrage. Indian Air force choppers have been deployed for rescue operations after South Bengal districts were swamped, damaging houses and leaving many stranded.

Large parts of West Midnapore, Hooghly, Howrah, Burdwan have gone under the water forcing the inhabitants of flooded-stricken areas to climb up to the terraces. Buildings are partially submerged while cattle too have been shifted to the terraces. Such was the sight in Ghatal, in West Midnapore where people are struggling to survive the next minute. The SDO’s office was also inundated and a wall collapsed, said Suman Biswas, SDO, Ghatal.

The flood victims are facing dire circumstances which have forced them to use the floodwater for drinking purposes which have further sparked off concerns of an epidemic outbreak. Ghatal residents claim it is the only way they can survive since leaving their houses have ceased to become an option when due to flooding, snake bites have become apparent.

“We are trapped and helpless. In case there is further rainfall, we might not survive” said a farmer in Ghatal who has shifted to the roof of his hut with his family. Mukherjee, after reviewing the flood situation, said the state government has arranged for drinking water at nearby camps in flood-hit areas, wherever it was possible. Water pouches are being distributed.

“Trinamul party workers, too, are lending support to the flood victims. The situation is grim,” admitted the minister.

Similar was the sight in Khanakul and adjoining areas in Hooghly district where many were airlifted by IAF choppers from terraces. The Rupnarayan River breached the embankments leading to the ingress of river water into civilization. Parts of Arambagh have been hit by the Shilabati and Dwarakeshwar Rivers.

Defence sources confirmed some of the IAF helicopters have been deployed for the rescue operations. In Howrah, about 41 villages have drowned in Udaynarayanpur. The Durgapur Barrage discharged 1.55 lakh cusecs of water on Sunday at 1 pm which hit the downstream blocks in Burdwan further causing fresh inundation in Galsi-I, II, RainaII, Jamalpur and Khandaghosh.

“The barrage had to release more water because the reservoir was failing to cope with the huge inflow,” said Sanjay Singh, executive engineer with the Damodar Headworks of the state irrigation department.

The state chief secretary, HK Dwivedi has met the district magistrates of the flood-hit areas and have discussed plans on evacuation and distribution of relief. More than 35,000 people have been evacuated by the state government with help of NDRF and SDRF teams while about nine persons have reportedly died. Evacuation will continue in the devastated districts.

Durgapur barrage today released 1.41 lakh cusecs of water, lower than yesterday as rains in Jharkhand’s upper catchment declined. The reduction in release although failed to improve the situation in flood-hit areas in Burdwan East, Bankura and part of Hooghly. The district recorded that floods partially damaged 548 houses besides damaging 153 houses.

“The flood situation is improving and things are likely to be under control shortly, especially with the decreasing trend of water discharge from the barrage,” said Priyanka Sinla, DM, Burdwan East. Jagannath Chatterjee, deputy director, agriculture said, “An estimated 72,000 hectares of Amon paddy is submerged and Kharif crop cultivated on 350 hectares have
been washed away.”