The Telegraph
Monday , July 1 , 2013
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Road turns canal, boat replaces bus
NET aspirants find it hard to keep feet dry

Monsoon bore down on Calcutta with a vengeance from Saturday evening to Sunday morning — submerging roads, homes and low-lying areas, not to mention the usual suspects such as Ballygunge Place, Amherst Street and Tallah Park.

The relentless overnight downpour helped June breach the 400mm mark for the second time in a decade. The highest for the month in 10 years was 559mm in 2008.

The rain started in fits and starts on Saturday evening and picked up pace around midnight. By the time it stopped around 11.30am on Sunday, Dum Dum had recorded 150mm while the gauge at Alipore Met office showed 82mm of rainfall. Salt Lake and Barrackpore received 120mm, amply displaying the north-south divide in the distribution on rainfall.

The weather was with those who managed to keep their feet dry on Sunday.

The rain-cooled city recorded a maximum of 27.8 degrees Celsius, which is five degrees below normal. In fact, the maximum temperature was lower than Saturday’s minimum (28 degrees Celsius). The maximum on Saturday was a pleasant 30.6 degrees Celsius but nothing compared to the post-rain dip.

Gokul Chandra Debnath, the director of the regional Met office at Alipore, predicted more rain over the next 24 hours because of an active weather system that caused Sunday’s deluge. “A low-pressure area is drawing moisture from the sea. It has intensified the monsoon trough, which is passing right over Calcutta at the moment,” he added.

Other than commuters and residents of flooded homes, the worst sufferers of the waterlogging were candidates of the national eligibility test (NET) at the Rammohan College and City College (North) centres on Amherst Street.

Most of them had to wade through waist-high water until cops from the local police station brought in plastic rescue boats to ferry the distraught students from the Amherst Street-MG Road intersection to the institution.

City College vice-principal Manisha Mukherjee said many candidates travelled in hand-pulled carts and rickshaw vans.

“The entire stretch was waterlogged but the candidates managed to make it on time. The invigilators, too, went through the same ordeal to report for exam duty,” she said. Mukherjee was present at the college to oversee the exam held between 9.30am and 4pm.

Unlike the NET candidates, Amherst Street resident and Salt Lake Sector V techie Archan Chatterjee did not “dare to take the scary boat ride” and rather cancelled a meeting at his office. “I knew I was in trouble when I heard the raindrops falling hard on the roof at night. I peered outside through the window in the morning and called off the meeting.”

“Our ground floor washroom was under 3ft water,” said Anasua Dutta of Tallah Park. Flooding was also reported from Ballygunge Circular Road, Ballygunge Place, Prince Anwar Shah Road, Hazra Road, Gurusaday Road, Swinhoe Street, parts of Central Avenue and Bagbazar Street, Thanthania, MG Road, Beadon Street and College Street.

“It took a long time for the rainwater to drain out because most outlets got choked with garbage that had accumulated through the day. The civic agency would have cleared the garbage in the morning but it rained so heavily the whole night that nothing could be done. This is a huge problem with overnight heavy downpour,” said Amit Kumar Roy, chief engineer (drainage and sewerage) with the CMC.

“However, a low tide in the Hooghly for six hours from 8am helped us flush out the water,” he added.

Some trains of Eastern Railway were delayed after the signalling system developed snags because of water seepage. But the service load was less because fewer local trains run on Sundays.