Raktima Bose

PETKULCHAND (SOUTH 24 PARGANAS): When cyclone Aila struck parts of West Bengal’s South 24 Parganas district on Monday, 75-year-old Manik Mondal of Purbo Gurguria village near here could only watch helplessly as his ancestral house got washed away and brackish water from the nearby Matla river entered his agricultural land.

After spending two nights under the open sky on the road with hundreds of other villagers and their livestock, Mr. Mondal has just one wish: “Could you please ask the administration to provide me with a sheet of tarpaulin so that I do not have to sleep on the damp floor?”

Locals say that even after two days the water level has not receded and the administration has not distributed relief materials.

“None from any political party has come to see our plight. We have lost everything. Drinking water and food are our basic necessities in this hour of crisis, but that too is hard to come by,” said a visibly agitated Satyen Moira of the same village.

Asked about Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee’s visit to the area a day before, when he promised to help those affected, Mr. Moira said: “We will believe him only if any help finally comes our way.”

Outpost washed off

Police personnel posted at an outpost here say they too are going through an ordeal as the outpost has been washed off.

Vast areas in the region remain flooded with saline water and thousands of livestock have died.

“The stagnant saline water will destroy the soil so much so that we cannot grow crops on it for the next two years,” Shishirdhar Jana, who has taken shelter at a relief camp set up in a school at Bhasha Gurguria village with 2000 others from adjoining villages, said.

Threat of diseases

The threat of spread of water-borne diseases looms large.

“The administration should immediately send medical teams to the villages. There is no water purifying solutions and other medicines at the health centre. People have already started complaining of diarrhoea; an outbreak cannot be ruled out,” said Aswini Kumar Manna of Nagenabandh village on the Moypeeth island.