The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Heat on a hunting spree across state

May 29: The relentless sun left five more dead in the state, raising the heat wave toll to nine in the past 24 hours.

With mercury touching 44 degrees Centigrade in Malda, Birbhum, Purulia and around 40 degrees in parts of Burdwan, Birbhum and the two Midnapores, no end to the suffering seemed to be in sight. Added to the oppressive heat was the spectre of water shortage in several areas.

The conditions forced lawyers of the subdivisional judicial magistrates’ courts in Durgapur and Asansol to go on a heat strike. They vowed not to return to work till June 7 when, they hoped, the monsoon would be on the coasts. Not that there was much work today. Temperatures in the belt hovered around 44 degrees. It had touched 47 yesterday.

In Durgapur, lawyers alleged that the heat was taking its toll of their “health and endurance”. “We are unable to perform regular work due to the heat, the litigants have been falling ill within the court premises. We have decided not to work till June 7,” said executive committee member of the Durgapur Bar Association, Sourin Das.

“Every year, during the peak summer weeks, we cannot work at all due to the extreme temperatures in the afternoon. We have been demanding that a morning court be held during the season and until our demand is met, we will not come to the court,” said Gurudas Mukherjee, the secretary of the Asansol Bar Association. The lawyers here will resume work on June 7.

Both the associations, however, have kept bail hearings out of the purview of their “strike”.

Three persons died of sun-stroke in Suri and Rampurhat in Birbhum district. An unidentified man was found dead at Bandel station in Hooghly.

Birbhum police said Ayodhya Mahara, 60, was killed by the heat at Siyapara village as was Khokon De, 26, who perished at Mallickpara in the same area. The police added that a middle-aged woman was found lying dead under a tree beside the main road in Rampurhat town.

Hooghly’s chief medical officer, Abdul Mannan Mollah, said a team of doctors has been sent to prevent an outbreak of epidemic after five-year-old Mumtaz Khatun of Bamunari in Rishra died of diarrhoea. The administration suspects that several children in the area could be suffering from enteric diseases after drinking pond water.

A brother and a sister at Ramnagar in Midnapore town drowned in the Kangsabati river while taking a dip this morning to beat the heat. Chittu, 18, and Sakila, 9, had come to their uncle’s place from Jamshedpur.

Police said though the water was not deep, the two had probably slipped into a mud hole. The bodies were sent for post-mortem.

Roads wore the look of a bandh afternoon in most district towns. Most shops were shut and stray dogs went into hiding. Gasping passengers rushed for watermelons.

Water scarcity was reported from several areas in Murshidabad with crisis reports coming from Bharatpur, Kandi and Khargram.

Though the CESC managed to repair the leakage in its thermal power plant at Budge Budge in South 24-Parganas, Burdwan, Birbhum and Purulia had to go without power for hours.

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