Monday, 30th October 2017

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5000 shifted to shelters in city

Civic personnel sanitised the shelters with sodium hypochlorite solution before letting people inside

By Subhajoy Roy in Calcutta
  • Published 21.05.20, 5:58 AM
  • Updated 21.05.20, 5:58 AM
  • 2 mins read
A hall in Bagbazar where some people were sheltered to protect them from the storm. Picture by Bishwarup Dutta

The Calcutta Municipal Corporation shifted close to 5,000 pavement dwellers and residents of crumbling buildings to safer shelters before Cyclone Amphan hit the city on Wednesday.

Officials said they had kept over 200 CMC schools and 60 community halls ready to shift more people if needed. Most of the people shifted earlier in the day were from north and central Calcutta where the number of old and dilapidated structures is more.

The evacuees were handed over masks while entering the shelters. Civic personnel sanitised the shelters with sodium hypochlorite solution before letting people inside.

In most places, the evacuees were provided with mattresses. They were asked to follow distancing rules. “When police and civic personnel approached us in the morning, we readily agreed to shift to the shelters,” a pavement dweller from north Calcutta said.

“We have shifted many people since morning as a preventive measure. These were mainly those living on footpaths and in dilapidated structures,” a CMC official said. More shelters have been kept ready. “People living in places prone to waterlogging, especially those living in slums in such areas, may need to be shifted in case of heavy rain.”

The main objective is to save lives, which is why people were shifted to the shelters before the cyclone struck, the official said.

Asim Ghosh, the coordinator and former councillor of Ward 7, told Metro that 60 people had been shifted to a community hall, Aikatan, in his ward. “People who lived under a tree or without a permanent shelter had been shifted in the morning. In the evening I got distress calls from four families. Some said their overhead tin shed had been blown away by the storm,” he said.

A family in Bagbazar’s Udbodhan Lane sought help after a tree fell on their hutment.

Cooked food had been given to people in the shelters for lunch, a CMC official said. “Large parts are without power supply. We have kept dry food ready for night in case we can’t provide cooked food.”

Several councillors said they could not recall the last time when so many people had been evacuated and sent to relief shelters in Calcutta. “This is a large-scale evacuation. Even at night people are being shifted. Those whose houses have been damaged are being shifted at night,” a north Calcutta ward coordinator said.

Firhad Hakim, the chairman of the CMC’s board of administrators, was present in the civic body’s control room for a long time since afternoon as the cyclone swept across the city.

CMC officials and engineers from various departments such as drainage, building, engineering and solid waste management spent the night in their offices. Their leaves are cancelled and they have to stay in office till Thursday, an official said.