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Rain blow to hospital
- Civic body’s excuse: chief away

Malda, Aug. 10: Several wards in Malda town and the the district hospital turned medical college here have been under water since yesterday, with the civic authorities pleading helplessness as municipality chairperson Krishnendu Chowdhury is away in Calcutta attending the Assembly session.

Vice-chairperson Babla Sarkar alleged that Chowdhury had not delegated any financial power to the member-chairperson-in council who is in charge of the conservancy before leaving town.

The worst affected is the Malda district hospital, whose premises are under knee-deep water. The employees and the visitors waded through the water to reach the hospital. Till late in the evening, the water did not recede and there was no effort on the part of the civic body to pump the water out, the hospital authorities alleged.

The superintendent of the hospital, Himadri Kumar Anri, said: “It is the responsibility of the municipality to see that the drainage system here works. I have informed the chairperson of the municipality. Not only the patients and their relatives, but the doctors, nurses and other hospital staff are also finding it difficult to work in this condition. If the rain continues, we will have to hire boats.”

Anri said this was not the first time that the civic body had been informed about the poor drainage system in the hospital, where MBBS classes started on August 1.

Sarkar said Chowdhury, who is the Congress MLA from Englishbazar, was away in Calcutta attending the Assembly.

“We are not being able to get in touch with him. Several wards like 20, 22, and 23 are waterlogged, as they are low-lying areas. Water has accumulated as the drains have not been cleared in time, some other wards are also beneath waist-deep water,” Sarkar, a Trinamul leader, said. He alleged that the Congress chairperson was running the civic body unilaterally.

Chowdhury, however, skirted questions on Sarkar's allegations. “Who says that I am doing nothing? I am in Calcutta not only to attend the Assembly session, I have with me projects like drainage and solid waste disposal that I will be taking up with municipal affairs minister Firhad Hakim,” Chowdhury told The Telegraph over the phone from Calcutta.

Chowdhury said he had heard that several areas had been inundated. “The water usually recedes as soon as the rain abates. However, the main cause for the flooding is the encroachments on the hospital campus that prevent our staff from clearing the drains. We have told the hospital authorities to get rid of the illegal shops on its premises so that we can clear the drains,” Chowdhury said.

Malda district magistrate Rajesh Sinha said the rains had also resulted in flooding in rural areas. “The waters of the Ganga have flooded villages in Kaliachak II and III blocks. Five villages with 1,800 families have been affected in these areas. I have asked the officials of the relief department to visit these areas and they have already distributed 1,500 plastic sheets and 14 tonnes of rice. However, the opening of relief camps was not required,” Sinha said.

He said erosion had also been reported from Manikchak. “Irrigation engineers have visited the area. They have recorded 48.5mm of rainfall in the past 24 hours,” Sinha said.

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