Calcutta, July 4: Wreaking havoc for two days, water has started subsiding in many places but not the threat of a replay.
The monster that was 300 km off Calcutta on Tuesday night has ripened into a fullblown depression and halved the distance in the intervening 24 hours.
If the depression retains its force and covers the remaining 150 km without changing course, the city and other south Bengal districts run the risk of being pounded by heavy rain during the next two days.
“We expect heavy to very heavy rains over Calcutta and elsewhere in south Bengal during the next 48 hours,” said G.C. Debnath, the director of the weather section at the Regional Meteorological Centre in Alipore.
Weather officials monitoring the depression with trepidation noticed in the morning that it had started inching towards the Bangladesh coast. However, the phenomenon suddenly changed course and advanced towards Bengal.
The depression can change direction again or it can run out of steam. If it doesn’t and manages to creep up on Bengal, heavy rain is the most likely fallout.
That the low pressure was intensifying was evident from the rain regaining its might last night, which pushed up the death toll to 14.
The Alipore rain gauge recorded 134.8mm between 5.30pm on Tuesday and 5.30pm on Wednesday. During the heavy burst on Tuesday morning, around 160 mm of rainfall was recorded.
The intensity of the rain did lessen towards Wednesday dawn but the forenoon was marked by frequent bursts that ensured many areas in the city remained waterlogged.
Hundreds of homes went without power as supply was switched off to prevent electrocution from submerged transformers. Some flights were affected and the railways have cancelled several trains on Thursday. An Indian airline flight to Kathmandu returned after half an hour as a precaution against possible snags in the rain.
The sun — and most of the sky, too — hid behind a grey blanket, adding to the grim mood that enveloped the city since the ordeal began on Tuesday. In the afternoon, the rain was reduced to on-and-off drizzles.
Then came the depression damper.
Debnath said the low pressure that hovered over the northeastern part of the Bay of Bengal last evening intensified as it travelled to the Bangladesh coast. The depression lay virtually on the Bangladesh coast, about 150 km southeast of Calcutta.
“The depression is moving in a north-westerly direction towards Bengal,” said Debnath.
Chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee admitted that the waterlogging and inadequate public transport had “caused great problems for the people”.
“The incessant downpour since yesterday has created the problem. I have asked the Calcutta Municipal Corporation to press all its pumping stations into service to drain the water from submerged areas,” the chief minister said.
He has convened a meeting tomorrow to review the situation.
Speaker Hashim Abdul Halim has directed urban development minister Asok Bhattacharya to make a statement in the Assembly tomorrow on waterlogging.