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Trough of low pressure shifting

Calcutta, Oct. 23: Nagging rain drummed on the frayed nerves of a city denied sunshine for the fifth day running amid signs that another round of torment looms once the clouds clear.

Although Sunday was wet like the five previous days, the rain was less intense. The Met office predicted an improvement in the weather from Monday afternoon. It had made a similar forecast on Friday, too, but an unforeseen development put paid to that.

Calcutta recorded about 20 mm rain since Saturday 8.30 am to 8.30 am today against 55 mm in the previous 24 hours. Rainfall figures were lower also for the south Bengal districts, where 13 people have so far died.

The trough of low pressure that lay like a giant worm between south Tamil Nadu and Arunachal Pradesh, dumping torrential rain on the city on Saturday has shifted towards the southeast.

On Sunday afternoon, the trough extended from the south Tamil Nadu coast to Mizoram and Nagaland across coastal Orissa and coastal Gangetic Bengal, Bangladesh and Tripura. It is shifting further towards Tripura and Bangladesh, away from Bengal.

“We expect that the sky will gradually clear from Monday afternoon. However, light to moderate rain is likely to continue over Calcutta and the districts during the next 24 hours,” said G.C. Debnath, the director of the weather section at Regional Meteorological Centre at Alipore.

Although the weather is expected to clear from tomorrow, officials said the heavy load of moisture already on land is capable of delivering heavy rainfall at isolated places during the next 48 hours.

Officials poring over their charts at the Met office said the cloud cover over Calcutta and its adjoining areas is already clearing slowly.

“We are all waiting impatiently for the sun to appear,” an official said. The sun has not come out since Wednesday.

The shortage of vegetables and fish that is already being felt could escalate once the sun reappears and people return to normal life. Fish supply to the city is already down 15 to 20 per cent and prices have risen 10 to 15 per cent.

For instance, the popular rohu/katla fish that cost Rs 80-90 a kilo in retail markets before the rain is now going at Rs 100-110. Calcutta consumes about 180 to 200 tonnes of fish a day.

“The main reason is that trucks carrying fish from Andhra Pradesh and Orissa are unable to reach Calcutta’s wholesale markets due to the rain and flooding,” said Sudhendu Chakraborty, the joint director of market (evaluation and survey) of the fisheries department.

Only hilsa is selling cheaper ' down to Rs 150-200 from Rs 180-250. “We are compelled to sell hilsa at a lower price because the rain has kept people indoors. The fish is highly perishable,” said a seller at Gariahat market.

Vegetable prices are also up Rs 5-10, again because sellers are unable to reach Calcutta. In New Market and Koley market, supply has dropped 40 per cent.

The retail price of potato has increased from Rs 8 to Rs 10-12 a kilo. Onion is fetching anything between Rs 25 and 30.

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