West Bengal floods claim 3 more lives

Kolkata: Three more deluge-related deaths were reported from West Bengal today though officials said floodwaters have started receding as there has been no rain in the past 24 hours.

With three more deaths in the past 24 hours, the figure of flood casualties has risen to 52, a senior officer in the Disaster Management Department said.

Around 15 lakh people have been hit by the floods in Coochbehar, Dakshin Dinajpur, Uttar Dinajpur, Jalpaiguri, Alipurduar and Malda in north Bengal since July 21.

About 789 relief camps have been set up and 3,00,089 people are putting up in them, he said.

The officer said the swirling waters have damaged 75,202 houses completely and 2,15,762 partly.

However, the exact assessment of damage could be made only after the water recedes, he said.

“We are constantly monitoring the situation in the six districts. The district magistrates are working 24×7 …

distributing relief material – dry food, cooked food, water pouches and medicines,” the officer said.

Medical officers are conducting regular check-ups to prevent the outbreak of any waterborne diseases, he added.

West Bengal Panchyat Minister Subrata Mukherjee said roads and pipelines for supplying drinking water have been badly damaged in the deluge.

“We are worried about the current situation in the six districts in north Bengal. We are very worried about the magnitude of damage to water pipelines and submersible pumps.

Floods have destroyed many roads. The panchayat and rural department will conduct a survey to assess the damage,” he said.

With surface communication in the region still affected, private airlines are charging anything from Rs 12,000 to Rs 25,000 per person between Kolkata and Bagdogra, the only functional airport in north Bengal.

Air India’s lowest fare from Bagdogra to Kolkata during the day was Rs 3,315 and the highest was Rs 9,736 (approximately) per person.

From Kolkata to Bagdogra, the fare was between Rs 3,804 and Rs 9,421, an AI official said, adding “we are trying to make available as many as possible low fare tickets in this sector”.

The state government had yesterday written to the civil aviation ministry on the “exorbitant” prices of tickets by some private airlines on the route.

“The state chief secretary has sent a letter to the Union Civil Aviation Secretary seeking his intervention as some private airlines are taking advantage of the situation and charging exorbitantly for a ticket between Bagdogra and Kolkata,” Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had said.

The Eastern Railways is running trains upto Malda from Kolkata. Services beyond Malda have remained suspended owing to the inundation of railway tracks in north Bengal, Bihar and Assam.

Train services to different destinations in north Bengal and Assam from Howrah and Sealdah stations remained suspended for the sixth consecutive day today, an ER spokesman said.

The state government is plying 41 pairs of buses of the North Bengal State Transport to and fro to destinations in north Bengal, state transport secretary Alapan Bandopadhyay said.

Bus services between the southern and northern parts of the state had remained suspended for the last five days owing to the inundation of national highways 34 and 31 and state highways at different places in north Bengal.