The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Clouds clear, crowds out

Rain played spoilsport on Saptami morning, wreaking havoc on pandals and forcing pandal-hoppers to take shelter. But by evening, the clouds had cleared and the crowds were back.

“If it continues to pour, the Puja will be ruined,” feared an organiser of Ballygunge Sarbojanin Durgotsav at Deshapriya Park.

According to the Met office, it rained more in north Calcutta than in the south — 51mm in Dum Dum and 18.4mm in Alipore.

The worst-hit among the organisers were those who have set up open pandals. The pandal at Pathuriaghata 5 Pally had water pouring onto the raised pedestal where viewers gather. The coconut husk and pine cones that were used for decoration came off in places.

“The footfall at this hour should have been 10 times more, had it not been for the rain,” Shekhar Ranjan Bhadra Choudhury, the president of Bagbazar Sarbojanin, said around noon.

Soumyadip Sarkar, a Class I student of South Point School, had come to Bagbazar all the way from Garia. “I could see only five pujas since the morning,” he rued.

Waterlogging on the Chittaranjan Avenue stretch in front of Mohammad Ali Park brought traffic to a halt. Among the other pockets that went under water were Madan Mohan Burman Street, Thanthania and Tarak Pramanik Road. Buses heading north had to be diverted down Rabindra Sarani. The Ultadanga underpass was a mess.

Civic chief engineer (drainage and sewerage) Tushar Ghosh said it took an hour for the water to drain out because of some “old defects in the drainage network”.

Pandal-hoppers took the rain in their stride and were out in force by evening, when the clouds cleared. At 7pm, the crowd from Gariahat to Girish Park made it difficult for the cops to regulate traffic.

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