‘Covid-19 made our lives miserable. Amphan turned it into hell’ | Kolkata News

KOLKATA: As if the four-hour pounding by cyclone Amphan was not enough, miseries have been piling up on residents across Kolkata, Howrah and Salt Lake over the last 48 hours. Plagued by lack of electricity and water, some households continue to remain cut off with dead landlines and no cellphone or internet connectivity. Jhimli Mukherjee Pandey and Krishnendu Bandopadhyay speaks to several such people across localities.

Large parts of Behala are marooned without electricity, water and communication network. “We are not even getting drinking water, forget about water to bathe. We are struggling without electricity for last 48 hours. Covid-19 had turned life miserable, Amphan has turned it into a hell,” said Ashok Karmakar, a Satyen Roy Road resident. Similar is the situation at Panchanantala near Behala police station. “We have got in touch with everybody, but everyone said ‘Dekhchhi’ (Let us see). We are sick and tired with the situation,” fumed Gaurav Sinha, a lawyer. Biplab Sarkar, a retired government employee living at the Thakurpukur Government Housing Society, added: “We are confined to our homes and have not been able to come out since Wednesday afternoon. There is waist-deep water outside. We tried to pump out water, but to no effect.”
Lake Gardens
In some pockets of Lake Gardens, the situation is equally bad. “Two days have gone and there is still no power. Got the overhead tank filled for Rs 2,000 by an enterprising man going around the neighbourhood with a generator,” said Ratnottama Sengupta, a Lake Gardens resident. Minu Ghosh, an old-time resident said, that her daughter and son-in-law, who live behind the Lake Gardens post office, have no power since Wednesday after a transformer caught fire.
Even on Friday, large stretches of Howrah city remained dark as CESC, which manages 85% of connections here, was unable to restore power. The same was the case with WBSEDCL, which manages the rest of the connections. Police had to intervene after people complained on helpline numbers against the poor pace of power restoration. “At the slightest pretext of rain, the ground floor of our house gets submerged. It’s worse this time. There’s knee-deep water on the ground floor. Our refrigerator, pump set, inverter — everything is damaged,” rued Ayan Chatterjee, an accountant. There have been four electrocutions within the city limits. Large stretches of north and central Howrah remained waterlogged too. The worst-hit are wards 45 to 50 as the Howrah Municipal Corporation could not pump out water because the canals were completely choked.

It has been nearly 50 hours that many stretches in these areas have been without power. Locals said they were reminded of the 70s and 80s when power cuts were normal but even then, the duration had never been this long. “Since there is no electricity, we can’t even switch the pump on. So we have ran out of water,” said management teacher Sukanya Das. On Friday, the area saw some people moving around in the area with generators, helping to fill up tanks against payments. “We paid Rs 500 to fill our tank, but my mother, who lives in Selimpur, was told she would have to pay Rs 6,000 for the one-time service,” Das said.

Some portions of Kasba reeled under power crisis and waterlogged lanes till Thursday evening, after which things started normalising. While water subsided from Swinhoe Lane and R K Chatterjee Road on Thursday afternoon, Bosepukur and portions behind Kasba police station saw power cuts that stretched from 2:30pm on Wednesday to 8pm on Thursday. “We weren’t prepared for this long stretch of power cut. So, our tanks went dry and we went without water for the whole of Thursday. Connectivity is another problem we are facing,” said a senior resident. Though power was not a problem at Swinhoe Lane, waterlogging was for a large part of Thursday, said BSF officer Suhrid Chandra Paul.
The entire area off B T Road here is waterlogged. Some houses in areas like Bidhan Park have the ground floor underneath water. Power has not been restored in most places and people have been calling up power utilities for help. “We are retired and don’t have the physical ability to run around to get things fixed up. At the slightest pretext, things go from bad to worse. It has been like this for years. Why can’t the service providers get to the bottom of the problems and amed things once and for all?” asked AL Goswami. Lack of connectivity and cellular network made things worse for people of these areas as well.
Salt Lake

Salt Lake has seen a huge loss of greenery, with uprooted trees damaging boundary walls, cars and windows. The clean-up work has reportedly been very slow. Though some pockets were lucky to have power, most blocks of the township went without electricity till late Thursday. “Though we had power, there was no connectivity and it was like the pre-mobile age. Internet connectivity was also poor. We did not have cable TV connection as well,” said Sumitra Ray, a retired school teacher.

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