The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Brick sewer breach delays rain drainout

More than 1,000 families had to be evacuated from low-lying pockets of the city on the third day of the rain on Wednesday. The showers were not as heavy or long-lasting all day as on Tuesday, but the skies opened up in the evening.

Men, women and children were given temporary shelter in school buildings, madarsas, mosques and stationary private buses in Tiljala, Behala, Garden Reach and Panchannagram, off the Eastern Metropolitan Bypass.

Residents of Ballygunge, Bhowanipore and the Beckbagan-Park Circus-Topsia-Tiljala belt had to remain waterlogged till the evening because of an undetected breach in the city’s oldest and widest brick sewer line, under AJC Bose Road.

The breach was detected in the evening when mayor Subrata Mukherjee and his council member Rajib Deb inspected the spot, along with engineers of the Calcutta Municipal Corporation, Hooghly River Bridge Commissioners and Larsen & Toubro, who have constructed the flyover above the road.

During the inspection, it was found that the root cause of the continued inundation in south Calcutta was the faulty piling work conducted by the contractors for the flyover in front of Minto Park. It had resulted in a portion of the brick sewer collapsing.

The accumulated run-off water from the Ballygunge and Bhowanipore areas could not flow down to the Ballygunge pumping station because of the resultant block in the sewerline.

Residents of the Beckbagan belt had to suffer a longer duration of waterlogging as pumps in the Ballygunge station could not be run for want of an adequate level of water in the brick sewer. The water had flown out of the breach.

More than 600 families in Anandanagar, Netajinagar, Sabuj Park and Sarada Pally, in Behala, were evacuated to the multi-storeyed buildings under construction in the area.

One of the evacuees, rickshaw-puller Sambhu Naskar, sat huddled in a corner with his wife and two children. He said: “We haven’t eaten for two days. We couldn’t cook because our clay oven, utensils, rice and pulses — almost everything we had — was under waist-deep water.”

Mayor Mukherjee offered Rs 10,000 from his relief fund to borough chairman Anjan Das to feed the evacuated poor in the Behala area.

That sparked off a conflagration within his council. “Though more marooned families had to be evacuated from Hastings, Bidhannagar, Tiljala and Panchannagram, in east Calcutta, our mayor’s relief fund didn’t open for them,” alleged local councillor Javed Ahmed Khan.

In Tiljala, private buses stranded on the streets had turned into temporary shelters for some families.

In Garden Reach, more than 1,500 people had been rescued from the Ayubnagar and Maqbul slums and given shelter in local mosques and madarsas. “The flood-stricken are badly in need of food and clothes,” complained local councillor Moinul Haque Chaudhury.

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