The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Babus stay in, transport stays off
Non-stop cascade takes toll of pumps

Reeling under the continuous downpour of the past 24 hours — the worst since 1998 — life in Calcutta stumbled along with heavily waterlogged streets, uprooted trees, extremely low attendance in government offices and train disruption wreaking havoc.

Heavy waterlogging was reported across north, south and east Calcutta, with Chitpur, Kalighat, Topsia and Kudghat among the worst affected.

With the weather office signalling more rainfall in the next 48 hours, things could take a turn for the worse, warned officials. Compounding matters, the drainage service unit at Palmer Bazaar, crucial to the Calcutta Municipal Corporation (CMC) drainage system, broke down around 4.30 pm.

Around the same time, a huge tree fell on Sarat Bose Road, near Puddapukur, disrupting traffic. “We are diverting vehicles wherever possible to ensure cars keep moving,” said deputy commissioner of police (traffic) M.K. Singh.

Drainage was further hampered when one pump in Kalighat and two in Ballygunge broke down, before being replaced. The CMC deployed 96 pumps during the day, draining 3,780 cusecs of water. “The high tide during the day posed some problems, but we worked through it,” said Mala Roy, mayoral council member in charge of drainage and sewerage.

At least 12 pairs of local trains operating from Howrah were cancelled and, by 11 am, private bus operators started pulling off the streets. Auto and taxi drivers reportedly asked for fares far higher than the norm, hitting office-goers.

Around 25 to 30 per cent attendance was reported in government offices. The CMDA office in Salt Lake led the absentee list, with only 10 per cent attendance, followed by 30 per cent at the CMC headquarters, on S.N. Banerjee Road.

Eastern Railway officials said the tracks in the Howrah yard lay completely submerged through the day. Also, an uprooted tree at Sonarpur station, on Sealdah’s South division, disrupted train services from 9 am to noon.

Meanwhile, areas in Kudghat, Paschim Putiary and Kamdohori, in the south, were inundated by the overflowing water of Tolly’s Nullah.

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