COVID-19 Rules Swamped By Water In Coastal Districts Of Bengal

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COVID-19 rules? Nothing is there except wearing a mask, and a lot many even do not use that. And you cannot even blame them.

This is the new reality in coastal districts of Bengal which have been swamped by water overrunning directly from the sea or through the rivers. According to Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, 1 crore people have been affected. Only a small part of it has been caused by Cyclone Yaas itself.

The rest is the consequence of the surge of water in the sea. At some points of time, the waves rose as high as 30 feet on Wednesday. Hundreds of villages and many towns have been swamped by the water.

“People have lost everything, even their utensils used for cooking have been washed away,” says Prabir Bhattacharya, member of an NGO that works in the Sunderban regions. “You cannot expect them to wear mask and maintain physical distancing. They would have to come together to rebuild their homes and find a way of livelihood. Many of them will have to stay for a week or two in the relief centres,” he said.

So, maintaining COVID-19 rules and restrictions will be a tall demand in these villages and towns for at least some days.

Two months ago, Bengal saw a COVID-19 surge thanks to political campaigning in Bengal. The prolonged eight-phase campaign helped spread the second wave. Now with the rest of India, the number of daily affected has started coming down in Bengal too.

ALSO READ: Cyclone Yaas: PM Modi To Visit Odisha, Bengal Tomorrow, Will Conduct Aerial Survey Of Affected Areas

The figure stood above two thousand for over a week and gradually has come down to 16 thousand on Tuesday. And just then the disaster has hit Bengal. The waterlogged areas are vast, as according to state administration 134 man-made river embankments had been breached, flooding hundreds of villages.

“We were expecting to contain the higher level of COVID-19 infection in another fortnight through near-lockdown restrictions, but now in at least four/five districts the restrictions are gone,” laments a health department official who himself is a doctor. He adds, “This time you cannot blame anyone, because it is nature’s fury.”

The worst part of the story is that the situation will remain the same for days. The cyclone blew over yesterday, but it is still raining in the southern districts of Bengal. Furthermore, Durgapur barrage of DVC is releasing water as it has rained incessantly in Jharkhand, its catchment area. All these will help the level of water in the rivers of southern Bengal to be high for some time. And it will have a serious impact on the water clogged areas of Purba Medinipur, Dakshin 24 Parganas, Uttar 24 Parganas and Howrah districts of Bengal.

(The author Diptendra Raychaudhuri is a senior journalist based in Kolkata. He has a wide range of experience in covering West Bengal politics and has authored).    

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