The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Flushed out: families
Search for a place that is safe and dry

A poster on the damp wall of the flooded Hindustan Park house in Behala reads: “If you have it in you, fly”.

Squadron Leader Dhoroni Nath Biswas can soar in the clouds no more. On Wednesday, the retired air force officer sat paralysed, watching the water level rise, inch by agonising inch — in the bedroom of his Behala home.

“Ever since he developed a spinal cord problem in 1996, my husband can’t move. And our only son, physically and mentally challenged, is bewildered by the water inside the house. I just pray to God for strength to cope with this crisis,” said Shila Biswas, watching Arun, in his 40s, trying to set right a picture that has come off a wall. In the frame, his father stands tall in air force uniform.

The family shifted from Jorhat in 2001 — two years after Dhoroni’s retirement — when they bought the house in Behala. Every monsoon now brings with it the fear of a flooded home, but the past 48 hours have been particularly harrowing for Shila Biswas. “I wish we could just go away somewhere safe and dry…,” she trailed off.

The Biswas family of Behala has nowhere to hide from the ravages of rain and civic sloth, but in another part of town, the Guptas of Brindavan Mullick Lane, off Amherst Street, do.

So, Ramananda Gupta, his wife Jayashree, son Kaushik and younger daughter Devashree, decided on Wednesday afternoon they had had enough of being marooned. Off they all waded to the Rashbehari Avenue house of daughter Tanushree.

“Our ground-floor house in under waist-deep water from Tuesday morning. There is no electricity, no drinking water and we ran out of food on Wednesday. We feel like people living in a remote village being forced to flee after a flood,” rued Ramananda Gupta, a carry-bag on his shoulder.

Kaushik, who works with Wipro in Sector V, added: “I have skipped work for two days and I just have to reach office on Thursday, which I can do from Rashbehari but not Amherst Street, which is actually far closer to Salt Lake.”

Those who can are fleeing Amherst Street and Behala, where the water shows little signs of receding. The Chatterjees, neighbours of the Guptas on Brindavan Mullick Lane, had left for a relative’s place in Salt Lake on Tuesday evening.

But the majority, like the Ghoshs of 29 Biplobi Pulin Das Street, is drowned in darkness and despair. “Our ground-floor house is flooded. There is no drinking water or electricity. We can only wait and hope the rain stops,” said 39-year-old Pabitra Ghosh.

With the roads flooded and rickshaws charging Rs 300 for a brief ride to Maniktala market, the monsoon has turned monstrous for the residents of Amherst Street.

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