KOLKATA: Forty-eight hours after Cyclone Amphan ripped threw the city, pockets of Kolkata continued to suffer without electricity, water supply or mobile network. Anger and frustration that had been simmering since Thursday evening boiled over on Friday when people erupted into spontaneous protests in different parts of the city, nearly all of them in peripheral areas, where the power network is overhead and bore the brunt of the monster cyclone.
Their misery refusing to end, residents living along Kasba connector, Anwar Shah connector, Ajoynagar, Baghajatin, Naktala, Haridevpur, James Long Sarani, Roy Bahadur Road, Behala Chowrasta, Bamacharan Roy Road, Thakurpukur, Howrah blocked roads. “Is anyone bothered about our suffering? No CESC or civic official has visited our area to cut uprooted trees or repair snapped power lines. In absence of electricity, pumps can’t be operated, and so, there is no water,” said Subir Sen from James Long Sarani. Subhojit Pal, another local, claimed, “I even visited the KMC borough office but no civic official was there to hear about our woes.”
Ramen Mondal, a resident of Paris Para, located off Behala Chowrasta, said storm water had not receded from roads even 48 hours later. “I tried to call the KMC emergency number and CESC call centre, but to no avail,” he said.
In Tollygunge, including Netaji Nagar, Ranikuthi, Azadgarh and Garia, as well as Haridevpur, people demonstrated against inaction by the civic body and power utilities; power to areas beyond Tolly’s Nullah is supplied by state-owned WBSEDCL. Student Tirthankar Chakraborty, who lives in Azadgarh, said he could not refrigerate his mother’s medicines. People living off Bypass, including Ajaynagar, Shahidnagar and Kasba, also blocked roads in a desperate bid to draw the authorities’ attention to the crisis. Many residents were forced to cough up Rs 2,000 to Rs 5,000 to hire generators to draw water to their reservoirs.
Even in north, Jessore Road near airport was blocked for an hour, while incidents of unrest were reported from Baguiati, Birati, Panihati and Budge Budge. Protests in Belur forced local MLA Baishali Dalmiya to rush to the spot.
CESC officials conceded they were overwhelmed by the sheer scale of disruption. “We had set up control rooms and kept 5,000 men ready but we could not gauge the magnitude of the destruction. We are working continuously but even then, repair is taking time,” said an official. CESC, he said, received 112 complaints of wire snap and 43 dislodged poles on Thursday morning and the figures rose to 600 and 200 on Friday evening. “We are now focusing on temporary repair. A thorough repair will be taken up later,” the official said.
CESC sources claimed they were not getting access to snapped wires as KMC had not removed uprooted trees. A KMC parks official conceded it was becoming difficult for them owing to lack of adequate manpower. The department has 1,000 gardeners, but at least 60% of them are stuck in their villages for lockdown. KMC has deployed conservancy workers but even then, it might take till May 31 to finish work in entire Kolkata.
While localities around the city are expected to get power back by Sunday, WBSEDCL can’t offer any deadline for places North and South 24 Parganas, East and West Midnapore, Hooghly and Howrah, where network has been ruined. “We don’t know when the entire restoration will be over, but we are working,” said an official.