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South flooded in city’s rain divide

- Season’s highest downpour so far could have filled Tallah tank 66 times

One half of Calcutta got flooded in less than two hours, the other barely got a drizzle.

The city’s traditional north-south divide was evident in the rainfall distribution, too, on a day the Alipore Met office recorded the season’s highest downpour so far — 110.6mm.

The torrential rain that lashed mainly the southern and western parts of the city from 11.30am to 1.30pm on Thursday was punctuated by lightning and thunder and accompanied by a strong wind.

Three deaths caused by lightning were reported from the city and Howrah. Nazir Hossain, 35, died after being struck by lightning at the crossing of Kidderpore Road and Lover’s Lane. Sheikh Asif died in Domjur and Krishna Devar in Howrah city.

“The monsoon trough has shifted downwards to Bengal from northeast India where it was stationed for so long. It is now extended from Bihar to the eastern part of the Bay of Bengal, passing through central Bengal. This shift has resulted in the flow of moisture-laden air from the Bay and cool winds from the northwest. The collision of the two winds produced the thunderstorm activity,” said G.C. Debnath, director, India Meteorological Department, Calcutta.

The intense rain, preceded by the formation of 12km-tall cumulonimbus clouds, left most thoroughfares in southern Calcutta flooded. In a span of two hours, Kalighat received 150mm of rainwater, Alipore 110.6mm and other pockets of south Calcutta around 80mm on an average.

The 20sq km command area of the Kalighat pumping station alone recorded 66 million gallons of rain, which would have filled the giant Tallah water reservoir in north Calcutta 66 times.

“I can’t recall a heavier downpour during my tenure as mayor,” said Sovan Chatterjee, whose team at the Calcutta Municipal Corporation toiled through the day to drain out water.

Chatterjee has been steering the civic body since June 2010.

Vast stretches of the city went under water around the time most schools gave over, with children getting stuck across campuses. Shaon Mandal of South Point High School said he had to stand in the shade for one hour from 11.30am before he could board the school bus. He reached his Kasba home one hour late.

Debolina Roy of Sovabazar in north Calcutta, however, had a different experience while returning home after fetching her son from his prep school.

“After a hot and sultry morning, the light drizzle accompanied by a cool breeze and an overcast sky was so refreshing,” recounted Roy. Among the other north Calcutta neighbourhoods, Ultadanga got 6mm of rain and Maniktala just 3.5mm.

This was a reversal of what had happened on Tuesday, when Alipore recorded 2.4mm of rain and Beleghata 72mm.

“Today’s rain was caused by the formation of thunderclouds which bring localised showers. The clouds formed more towards south,” Debnath said. “Rain is expected to increase all over the state in the next couple of days. But the rainfall in Calcutta is not likely to be as intense as today.”

Thursday’s showers broke the June 13, 2007, record of 105mm of rain in three hours.

nMonsoon in 150mm: a civic flop, Page 23