West Bengal, which has been battling with piling cases of Covid-19 and the aftermath of Cyclone Amphan, is now staring at another double whammy — of floods and dengue.
With the meteorological department predicting no respite from rains in at least another five days in both northern and southern parts of the state, the local administrations in the flood-prone districts are put on alert to deal with any flood-like situation.
A low-pressure area over the north Bay of Bengal has triggered “widespread” rain across south Bengal, including Kolkata, since Monday. Rain/thundershowers were observed at most places in Gangetic West Bengal on Thursday (August 27). Some of these places even received heavy showers.
Fishermen were advised not to venture into the sea as due to a strong pressure gradient, wind speed exceeded 45 kmph on Thursday.
The continuous rain since Monday led to stagnation of water in vast swathes of farmland in East and West Burdwan districts, East and West Midnapore districts, North and South 24 Parganas districts.
Taking note of the situation, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee directed the district administrations to coordinate with irrigation, agriculture, panchayat departments to drain out water from the agricultural lands immediately to prevent any damage to the standing crops.
“This year we are witnessing heavy rainfall… Rivers are flowing above the danger level. So we must be prepared for any eventuality,” the chief minister said at an administrative review meeting with district officials.
The state’s agriculture sector received a severe blow from Cyclone Ampan that damaged an estimated 17 lakh hectares of crops worth ₹15,800 crore.
The breaches in river embankments caused by Amphan made the situation precarious in many places in the two 24 Parganas districts. Around 160 km of river embankments and four kilometres of sea dykes were damaged by the cyclone.
Apart from the flood-like situation, another monsoon woe, the dengue, is also keeping the state government on tenterhooks. To make the situation worse, a few hospitals in the state have reported the co-infection of dengue and Covid-19.
State’s urban development and municipal affairs minister Firhad Hakim on Wednesday went into a huddle with officials of all civic bodies in the state to chart out a dengue mitigation plan.
Earlier, the Kolkata Metropolitan Development Authority (KMDA) had launched a quick dengue response team for taking dengue prevention measures in housing complexes and markets across the city. The team is also conducting awareness campaigns.
According to an official estimate, around 25 people died of dengue in the state last year. Since 2017, the vector-borne disease has become a common menace in the state during monsoon. At least five dengue deaths have been reported for over 500 cases in the state so far this year.