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Army to Salt Lake’s rescue

Team has around 45 jawans equipped with specialised tree-cutting and road-clearing equipment
Army jawans stand by as one of their colleagues operates a JCB to clear a fallen tree in Salt Lake

Snehal Sengupta   |     |   Published 28.05.20, 11:03 AM

An Indian Army team from the Bihar Regiment is criss-crossing Salt Lake, slicing through fallen trees and clearing up roads since Saturday night.

Cyclone Amphan uprooted at least 3,000 trees in Salt Lake and brought movement to a standstill by blocking roads, damaging vehicles and felling lamp posts. The roads in most parts of Salt Lake resembled a sanctuary of prostrate trees and there was no respite in sight as the teams from the Bidhannagar Municipal Corporation struggled to clear the lanes.

“We are simply not equipped to handle the aftermath of a cyclone of this magnitude,” said an official of the civic body. “Our men mostly had axes, spades and traditional cutting tools and it was taking a too long to clear the large trees that had toppled over in Salt Lake.”

Devashis Jana, a mayoral council member of the corporation, said that around 3,000 trees had been uprooted. “This figure does not take into account trees with keeling or damaged branches. We have never faced such an extreme situation before,” said Jana.

Most roads in Salt Lake, including First Avenue and parts of Broadway that connects Salt Lake with EM Bypass, were left unmotorable after the storm and the corporation struggled to clear the tangle of uprooted trees and cables.

Several residents across Sector I, II and III were trapped indoors as either the entrance of their houses or their lanes had been blocked by trees.

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Marching in


The Army started working in the township since last weekend. Their team has around 45 jawans equipped with specialised tree-cutting and road-clearing equipment. They brought in a 4X4 all-terrain JCB hydraulic backhoe loader and crane and started clearing fallen trees at the Karunamoyee intersection on Saturday night.

The team is being led by lieutenant colonel Diptargha Sarkar and is moving around the township with the assistance of Bidhannagar Police, councillors and ward assistants.

This same team had taken part in search and rescue operations during the Amarnath floods in 2013.

The team moved with clockwork precision starting their day at 9am and cleared monstrous trees from in front of Mayukh Bhavan, Baisakhi, near 206 Bus stand in AJ Block, AL Block, AE Block and Broadway among others.

According to Sarkar, they had carried out a reconnaissance of the areas with the most number of fallen trees and were focussing on clearing major thoroughfares. 'We are trying to clear up as many trees as we can. Since we have specialised equipment we are able to work faster,' he said.

EE Block resident Priyam Chatterjee said that if not for the army the main road in front of their block would have been blocked forever. 'We did not catch a sight of the local councillor,' said Chatterjee, visibly cross.

The mayor of the corporation Krishna Chakraborty too admitted that the men in olive green were better equipped than civic teams. 'They are doing a great job and we are happy to host them. We don't have such manpower and expertise and we called in the Indian Army for help, keeping in mind the welfare of residents,' said Chakraborty.

The former mayor of the corporation Sabysachi Dutta told The Telegraph that the civic body was ill-equipped and had not fathomed what lay ahead after the Cycone Amphan. 'They had clearly not planned ahead. There were no teams on standby. Those that had been deployed had primitive equipment and people suffered. It was the army that has come to the aid of Salt Lake residents and we must remember that. The civic teams were useless,' said Dutta.

The team moved with clockwork precision starting their day at 9am and cleared monstrous trees from in front of Mayukh Bhavan, Baisakhi, near route 206 bus stand in AJ Block, AL Block, AE Block and Broadway among others.

According to Sarkar, they had carried out a reconnaissance of the areas with the most number of fallen trees and were focussing on clearing major thoroughfares. “We are trying to clear up as many trees as we can. Since we have specialised equipment we are able to work faster,” he said.

EE Block resident Priyam Chatterjee said that if not for the army the main road in front of their block would have been blocked forever. “We did not catch a sight of the local councillor even for once,” said Chatterjee.

The mayor of the corporation Krishna Chakraborty too admitted that the men in uniform were better equipped than civic teams. “They are doing a great job and we are happy to host them. We don’t have such manpower and expertise and we called in the Army for help, keeping in mind the welfare of residents,” said Chakraborty.

The former mayor of the corporation Sabyasachi Dutta told The Telegraph that the civic body was ill-equipped and had not fathomed what lay ahead after the cyclone. “They had clearly not planned ahead. There were no teams on standby. Those that had been deployed had primitive equipment and people suffered. It was the army that has come to the aid of Salt Lake residents and we must remember that. The civic teams were useless,” said Dutta.



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