KOLKATA: Chief minister Mamata Banerjee’s direct intervention and the joint action by central and state agencies on the ground seemed to have brought about a sense of normality in large parts of the city on Sunday, with several areas getting back basic services and many city thoroughfares — un-navigable till Saturday — seeing traffic movement.

Several thousand households, both in the CESC and WBSEDCL coverage zones, got back electricity on Sunday. CESC reported to the state that large swathes of south Kolkata, some in north Kolkata and the rest in Howrah were back on the grid; WBSEDCL reported that 213 of its 272 sub-stations could be revived. As many as 60,000 more homes got back electricity on Sunday, said CESC. On Saturday, the chief minister, sensing the mood in the city, had stepped in by going herself to the CESC headquarters to speak to senior executives.
With electricity back more than 90 hours after Cyclone Amphan passed through the city, the water crisis also eased somewhat, with booster pumping stations that had suffered power outage restored. Several parts of the city, however, still faced problems. These pockets witnessed sporadic protests for the third day straight. If, however, the number of protests can be seen an as index of dissatisfaction, it pointed to anger subsiding in many pockets. Sun-day’s protests were reported from three south Kolkata zones, mostly in Behala. The others were Baghajatin Bazar and Sree Colony in Jadavpur and Baruipur-Narendrapur in the southern suburbs. Army units were deployed in Behala, along with police, KMC and Fire Brigade personnel to speed up restoration work.
KMC said on Sunday that 15,000 trees had fallen across the city (three times its initial estimate), around 40% of those full-grown. The five columns of the Army’s Kumaon Regiment resumed work after helping clear Southern Avenue, Ballygunge Circular Road and Gurusaday Road. On Sunday, along with Behala, Army units were deployed on Diamond Harbour Road and Salt Lake. NDRF teams cleared parts of Esplanade, Red Road, Harish Mukherjee Street and some locations in Dhakuria.
KMC chairperson Firhad Hakim said Kolkata’s arterial thoroughfares had been cleared for vehicular movement. However, bottlenecks remained.
Mobile service providers and broadband operators, how-ever, failed to provide any time-frame about clearing voice and data logjam. Cable TV screens have been flickering in and out of life across the city, even as wires kept getting snapped in eff-orts to remove uprooted trees. Services remain suspended across most of south, east and north Kolkata; numerous pockets where it had been restored suffered another blackout on Sunday as efforts to remove road debris were stepped up.



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KOLKATA: Chief minister Mamata Banerjee’s direct intervention and the joint action by central and state agencies on the ground seemed to have brought about a sense of normality in large parts of the city on Sunday, with several areas getting back basic services and many city thoroughfares — un-navigable till Saturday — seeing traffic movement.

Several thousand households, both in the CESC and WBSEDCL coverage zones, got back electricity on Sunday. CESC reported to the state that large swathes of south Kolkata, some in north Kolkata and the rest in Howrah were back on the grid; WBSEDCL reported that 213 of its 272 sub-stations could be revived. As many as 60,000 more homes got back electricity on Sunday, said CESC. On Saturday, the chief minister, sensing the mood in the city, had stepped in by going herself to the CESC headquarters to speak to senior executives.
With electricity back more than 90 hours after Cyclone Amphan passed through the city, the water crisis also eased somewhat, with booster pumping stations that had suffered power outage restored. Several parts of the city, however, still faced problems. These pockets witnessed sporadic protests for the third day straight. If, however, the number of protests can be seen an as index of dissatisfaction, it pointed to anger subsiding in many pockets. Sun-day’s protests were reported from three south Kolkata zones, mostly in Behala. The others were Baghajatin Bazar and Sree Colony in Jadavpur and Baruipur-Narendrapur in the southern suburbs. Army units were deployed in Behala, along with police, KMC and Fire Brigade personnel to speed up restoration work.
KMC said on Sunday that 15,000 trees had fallen across the city (three times its initial estimate), around 40% of those full-grown. The five columns of the Army’s Kumaon Regiment resumed work after helping clear Southern Avenue, Ballygunge Circular Road and Gurusaday Road. On Sunday, along with Behala, Army units were deployed on Diamond Harbour Road and Salt Lake. NDRF teams cleared parts of Esplanade, Red Road, Harish Mukherjee Street and some locations in Dhakuria.
KMC chairperson Firhad Hakim said Kolkata’s arterial thoroughfares had been cleared for vehicular movement. However, bottlenecks remained.
Mobile service providers and broadband operators, how-ever, failed to provide any time-frame about clearing voice and data logjam. Cable TV screens have been flickering in and out of life across the city, even as wires kept getting snapped in eff-orts to remove uprooted trees. Services remain suspended across most of south, east and north Kolkata; numerous pockets where it had been restored suffered another blackout on Sunday as efforts to remove road debris were stepped up.



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KOLKATA: Nine-year-old Arpita Gayen says she can never forget the night she saw her father, visibly dead, floating in the water near their home, but no one from her family — mother and uncles standing at a distance, holding her hand tightly and crying for help — stepping forward to pull him out.
“I don’t know if I will ever be able to make my daughter understand why none of us could go near her father’s body,” said Aparna Gayen, the widow of Pintu Gayen of Becharam Chatterjee Road in Behala, who was electrocuted while wading through a waterlogged road near his home on Wednesday evening. “We will all have to live with the haunting memory for the rest of our lives.”

Pintu was among the 19 casualties caused by Cyclone Amphan in Kolkata, 11 of whom were electrocuted, and whose bodies were found floating on the city’s waterlogged streets.
Pintu (37) last spoke to Aparna at 9pm on Wednesday, when he left his office at Behala’s Jayrampur with three of his colleagues. He was leading the group, walking through the waterlogged road, when he fell down in the water and began screaming for help. But no one dared to pull him out. “He was lying there till midnight. Many of us had gathered nearby, but no one was allowed to pull him out. Representatives of the CESC came after repeated complaints. After disconnecting the live wires from three fallen electric poles, we finally brought him out. He was long dead,” Aparna said, clutching a family photograph of from happier times.
Fifteen kilometres away, in north Kolkata’s Maniktala, Rahul Adhikari’s family didn’t even have any clue of his death until cops knocked on their door on Thursday with a photograph of his body, taken as it was lying on a footpath on a waterlogged Raja Dinendra street.
“We thought he got stuck at his workplace because of the storm,” said Rahul Adhikari’s mother Saraswati Adhikari, standing outside their Khasmahal Street home on Friday. “That’s what he had told us on Wednesday night before phone lines got disconnected. We thought he would be back home for lunch after work, but instead the cops came and informed us that he was dead.” Adhikari (27), a driver at a private firm, is survived by his wife, two children, an elder brother and an ailing mother.
Two days after the cyclone blew over, the city cops are still struggling to identify some of the floating bodies that they stumbled upon in Kolkata’s waterlogged streets between Wednesday evening and Thursday morning. TOI had carried the photograph of one such body floating in a ditch near Calcutta Club on Friday. His identity has not been ascertained yet. “We only found some flowers and Rs 20 in his pocket but no identification. We have passed on the information to the missing persons squad, but there have been no developments,” said a senior officer of Bhowanipore police station.
Of the 19 deaths in the city, five were under Parnasree police station. The body of Balbant Kumar Singh, a local transporter, was found floating on a road near a pond. Ranjan Sarkar, a security guard at a private firm; Aloke Niranjan Singh, a CISF official; and Parneet Singh Sethi, a businessman who had gone out to buy medicines for his ailing mother were also found floating, electrocuted, in nearby areas. Parnasree, home of former mayor Sovan Chatterjee, was still inundated on Friday evening, triggering a number of roadblocks.
An elderly woman travelling on a cycle rickshaw at Tikiapara, Howrah, was rescued dramatically on Friday after her rickshaw-puller died of electrocution while negotiating waist-deep water. The woman sat tight in the passenger seat for one-and-a-half hours till help arrived. “While some of us continuously kept talking to her, warning her about the importance of sitting still and keeping her morale high, the rest of us desperately tried to contact CESC workers to disconnect the line. This continued for about 90 minutes. After the line was disconnected, one of us got into the water and brought her to safety,” said a senior officer of Bantra police station.
— with inputs from Jhimli Mukherjee Pandey in Howrah



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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.
Behala

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.
Howrah
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.
Garia-Narendrapur-Haridevpur

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.
Kasba
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.
Sinthee
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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