Power and water played truant. The sun did not. And the mercury climbed to its highest point this season.
Two lives were lost in Bandel and two others died in districts further off. In Calcutta, the maximum temperature recorded was 39.6 degrees Celsius. Purulia recorded the all-Bengal high of 47 degrees Celsius.
In Bandel, the bodies of two destitutes were found on the railway station platform. In Malda, 55-year-old Jhunu Biswas succumbed to the heat. In Murshidabad, Class X student Suman Saha died soon after he went jogging in Behrampore, like every other morning.
In town, the temperature hovered between 39 degrees and 40 degrees Celsius through most of the day. There were slim chances of immediate rain, weather officials said, warning that the mercury would climb higher on Thursday.
Many Calcuttans took the easiest way out — they stayed indoors. But there was little respite, with power supply being the problem. For the second day in succession, the city suffered a shortfall of 130 mw.
“They are not power cuts. Supply was hit because some units tripped,” explained chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee at Writers’ Buildings.
Power minister Mrinal Banerjee, however, said Calcuttans must shoulder some of the blame. “A few of our overworked transformers caught fire as they could not take the extra load of so many air-conditioners,” he said. Among the transformers that caught fire were those at Salt Lake’s DL Block and on Prince Anwar Shah Road.
A large part of Salt Lake and south Calcutta went without power, as did a large part of south Bengal, with Burdwan bearing the brunt. “Many units tripped across south Bengal,” the minister said, mentioning the DPL unit at Durgapur.
CESC officials said the Budge Budge unit that tripped on Tuesday could not be repaired till Wednesday. The unit should be working by Thursday but, till then, Calcuttans should be ready for rotational power cuts. South Calcutta would suffer the most, they warned.
SSKM Hospital and Writers’ Buildings, too, went without power for some time on Wednesday afternoon.
Taps ran dry in many localities, adding to the woes. The southern part of the city was affected more, officials said. There was no water in Dhakuria, Kasba, Jadavpur and the areas along the EM Bypass.
The heat wave in the districts saw the mercury shooting up to 46 degrees Celsius in Bankura and 45 degrees in Asansol. The other notable highs, the weather office said, were Durgapur (42.5) and Burdwan (41). Malda and Behrampore recorded 42 and 41 degrees Celsius, respectively.