Train services hit, infant drowns as rains plunge Kolkata into chaos

Kolkata, July 10 (IANS) Heavy monsoon showers – the season’s highest so far – threw suburban train services haywire and inundated vast parts of the eastern metropolis disrupting normal life on Friday, officials said. An infant was also washed away and drowned in the rising rain water level.

The Met Office recorded a rainfall of 14 cm from Thursday night in Alipore and 16 cm in Dum Dum area close to the airport.

A six-month-old baby was swept away by the rising level of rain water while sleeping with his parents on a pavement in north Kolkata’s Muktaram Babu Street, police said.

“The body was recovered from Bidhan Sarani and was declared dead by doctors at Calcutta Medical College and Hospital. We are waiting for the post mortem report. There was water-logging in the area where the parents were sleeping in Muktaram Babu street,” Deputy Commissioner of Police (Central Division) Bastab Baidya told IANS.

Four long distance express and 60 suburban trains were either cancelled or ran late as heavy overnight rains submerged tracks on Sealdah division of Eastern railway.

In Baruipur-Lakshmikantapur section of Sealdah South, overflowing water from ponds flooded the railway tracks, forcing the cancellation or late running of 40 trains.

In Sealdah Main, 20 trains were cancelled or moved late due to water-logging in Kankinada-Naihati section, an Eastern Railway release said here

With various major thoroughfares and arterial roads in Park Circus, Central Avenue, Park Street, Jadavpur, Baishnabghta, Behala, Belgachia under ankle-deep to knee deep water, many schools gave a rainy day, and attendance in offices and commercial establishments were below normal. All matches in various divisions of the Kolkata soccer league were washed out.

In Patuli in the city’s southern outskirts, policemen were seeing keeping a watch on the situation on a boat.

In south Kolkata’s Purna Das Road, uprooted trees snapped power connection, prompting the Kolkata Police personnel and officials of Calcutta Electric Supply Corporation to rush to the spot to restore electricity.

Traffic crawled on the E.M. Bypass, the stretch that connects eastern Kolkata to rest of the metropolis.

Damaged roads due to ongoing metro extension work added to driving woes. Cabs refused to ply in many places owing to inundation, while others fleeced passengers.

Similarly, only a section of buses owned by state-run transporter CSTC plied.

“This was the highest rainfall ever since the monsoons arrived in West Bengal on June 19. Some places received more than 16 cm of rainfall. South Bengal was more affected,” Deputy Director General of Meteorology (Eastern region) Devendra Pradhan told IANS.

The rains were due to a low pressure area in the vicinity of Jharkhand, but the situation would ease during the day, he added.

“We are not expecting heavy rains over the next two days,” he said.

To combat the situation, the Kolkata Municipal Corporation deployed 450 portable pumps to drain out water in streets, in addition to operating 340 pumps at 73 pumping stations in various areas.

Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee instructed the Kolkata civic body and the municipalities in the adjoining areas to take all measures to drain out the accumulated water. City Mayor Sovan Chtterjee spent the better part of the day at the KMC control room to supervise the drainage operations, while the disaster management department held an emergency meeting at the state seceretariat Nabanna.

Member (sewerage and drainage) of the mayor-in-council, Tarak Singh claimed inundation occurred due to tidal water flow from the Ganga.

“This is not actually water-logging. If that was the case, then vehicular movement would have totally stopped. Water levels are receding. Only few pockets of the city were affected,” he said.

To rescue and ferry stranded people, Kolkata Police’s disaster management division made arrangements to press boats into service at several police stations.

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