Special Correspondent

KOLKATA: Twelve days after storms brought about by cyclone Aila left behind a trail of destruction in the Sunderbans in West Bengal, the region braces itself for fresh inundation in areas which cannot ward off the tidal waves.

Nearly 40,000 people are expected to be evacuated from parts of the Sunderbans following fears of fresh areas being submerged during high tide on Saturday when water could gush in through the breaches of the embankments damaged in the cyclone, Subhas Naskar, State Irrigation and Waterways Minister told The Hindu on Friday.

The State government is on the alert and personnel and boats are ready to shift people to temporary shelters.

At least 30 per cent of the embankments breached during the storms are yet to be restored. Temporary restoration has been completed in the rest. A stretch of nearly 400 km of embankments has been damaged in the two worst-affected districts of North and South 24 Parganas, Mr. Naskar said.

The Army is providing the civil authorities technical advice for the restoration of the embankments even as it continued to assist the local authorities in relief work. Ten medical teams have been sent to the affected areas and another 10 are on the standby in the city, a Defence spokesperson said. In the wake of allegations of partisan distribution of relief by different political parties, Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee has convened on Sunday a meeting of leaders of the different parties that have a representation in the State Assembly to discuss ways to expedite relief supplies. The total allocation for relief and restoration work by the State government has been increased to Rs. 112 crore.