Nearly 1.5 lakh people were affected by storms and heavy rain in the southern districts of West Bengal, including areas that were severely affected by cyclone Aila three months ago. About 14,000 houses have been destroyed.

The rain, accompanied by gales, were induced by a depression that formed over the Bay of Bengal, officials said here on Sunday.

The State government has sanctioned Rs. 4 crore to provide relief,said State Finance Minister Asim Dasgupta. Tarpaulin sheets and clothes were also distributed.

Embankments were breached at 19 places due to the flood-like situation in the affected districts, he said.

Minister for Sunderbans Affairs Kanti Ganguly said barring breaches in Kashipur village in the South 24 Parganas district, all others had been plugged.

“The situation is completely under control,” Mr. Ganguly said, adding that the need to relocate people to relief camps did not arise.

Most breaches that occurred recently were at places where embankments had been damaged in the wake of cyclone Aila, said Mohammad Shahid, the Sub-Divisional Officer of Canning sub-division of one of the worst affected districts — South 24 Parganas.

“We have only been able to repair embankments temporarily, as money from the Centre for building permanent embankments is yet to come through,” Mr. Ganguly said.

Alert helps

On Saturday, the State government issued a weather alert in six districts — North and South 24 Parganas, Purba, Paschim Medinipur, Bankura and Purulia.

The early warning helped prevent a larger calamity, said Choten Lama, the District Magistrate of Purba Medinipur. But despite warnings, a 50-year-old tourist drowned in the sea, off the coastal town of Digha, she said.

“The depression that had formed over the Bay of Bengal has moved over to Jharkhand,” said G.C. Debnath, Director of the weather section of the Regional Meteorological Centre.

Heavy rainfall was expected over southern parts of Bengal in the next 24 hours, he said.


Gloomy Durga puja in cyclone-hit SundarbansSeptember 24, 2009

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