A foreigner couple go plastic during a rickshaw ride through flooded Golf Green. (Bishwarup Dutta)
The rain relented on Wednesday but the overflowing rivers didn’t, blocking the passage of water through the drainage canals to keep parts of Calcutta marooned through the day.
Canals across the city either drain out into the Hooghly or the Kulti Gang but both rivers are in spate after more than two days of incessant rain that have made this August the wettest month in 12 years.
Officials of the Calcutta Municipal Corporation said the impact of the double attack on the waterfront would be felt until the water level of both rivers receded.
“It depends on how quickly the canals can drain out rainwater into the rivers. We can do the mechanical job of running pumps but excess water needs a place to be drained out,” said a senior engineer of the CMC.
Some of the usual waterlogging suspects had escaped their familiar woes through 48 hours of rain, thanks to the twin civic projects to salvage the city’s silt-choked British-era sewers and create a storm drainage network for areas that had only open drains.
But while the CMC’s fight against monsoon flooding was more effective than in previous years, some pockets have remained waterlogged for over two days.
Kasba, parts of Behala and Tollygunge, Golf Garden, Ajoynagar, Haltu, Kalikapur, Mukundapur, Patipukur and some other areas adjoining the EM Bypass battled waterlogging even after the rain ceased around noon.
A 250-metre stretch of Prince Ghulam Mohammad Shah Road in Golf Garden was under knee-deep water till evening. Several cars and two-wheelers were spotted sputtering before their engines fell silent while trying to cross that stretch.
Dwaipayan Roy, a resident of Sakherbazar visiting his sister in Golf Garden, had a harrowing experience while leaving her place in the morning. “My car stalled on the waterlogged road a few yards from her house. I had to push the vehicle back to her house,” he said.
A group of children was spotted using a net to catch fish swimming in the middle of the road after an adjacent pond spilled over.
In Mukundapur, the road leading to Sankara Nethralaya was under knee-deep water. Rickshaws demanded Rs 50 for a ride that otherwise costs Rs 10. At Nayabad in New Garia, boats ferried commuters.
A CMC engineer said water from these pockets of Calcutta would recede almost immediately after the level of the Hooghly and Kulti Gang came down. “Rainwater from these areas comes to a drainage pumping station through underground sewer lines. From the station, the water is pumped out into the canal, which takes it to the river.”
The stairs leading to the river at Babughat were under water around 1.30pm. Residents of the area said the water level was even higher during high tide in the morning.
“The level of the Hooghly on Tuesday was 4 feet higher than that during Amabasya on August 9. It was similar on Wednesday. This shows the effect of tide and the amount of rainfall over last two days,” the CMC engineer said.
The Kulti Gang, 35km from the city along the Basanti highway, also showed little sign of receding through the day.
“The lock gate could be opened only in the evening, when low tide kept the water level lower than that of the drainage canal. It could take another 24 hours for all the stagnant water to be drained out,” an official said.