Heavy rain inundates parts of Bengal

Heavy rainfall since Saturday marred normal life in the two northern Bengal districts of Jalpaiguri and Alipurduar as large parts were inundated. While the south Bengal district of Howrah, too, faces apprehensions of flooding, Burdwan district in southern Bengal, however, is suffering a prolonged dry spell, affecting agriculture to significant extents.

In north Bengal, flooding took place even though rainfall has been less than the average long term volume recorded during this time of the year. Experts, however, feel that the inundation is primarily due to poor management, which has reduced the water retaining capacity of rivers due to heavy siltation.

Going by numbers, although the region receive deficient rainfall, the monsoon rain has already left put large extant of land flooded in sub-Himalayan Bengal, putting the area’s agriculture-based economy in peril.

While the government has already issued a red alert, after consulting river movement expert Dr Kalyan Rudra and others, that the region’s rivers, which are mostly fed by glaciers, are flowing down from eastern Himalayas, according to official figures around three lakh people are stuck in inundated areas, living in water-logged homes.
“What adds to our worries is that fresh and heavy downpour is being predicted over the next 48 hours by the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) at Hyderabad. The overall situation is serious,” pointed out a senior member of the North Bengal Flood Control Commission.

Experts such as Dr Rudra and Dr G.N. Raha, senior meteorologist with IMD, point out that this monsoon, rainfall in sub-Himalayan West Bengal and Sikkim is still less than normal. “While the long-term average for the period from June 1 to July 3 has been 616 mm, this year it has been recorded as 575mm, which is seven percent less than average for the period. Despite the heavy downpour in the last few days rainfall has been within normal range,” a senior officer from the Met office in Kolkata said.

Even in Howrah, which is separated from Kolkata by the river Hooghly, the two blocks of Amta and Udaynarayanpur are faced with fears of large-scale inundation.

According to senior government officials, not only have crops been destroyed across large tracts of land, due to heavy rains the ongoing Aman crop could not be sowed in many places of these two blocks. While the makeshift bunds have also collapsed and local are blaming the government for failing to make adequate arrangements in time, the IMD predicts moderate to heavy rain would continue over sub-Himalayan West Bengal.

Other areas to face similar rainfall are parts of Bihar and Arunachal Pradesh, parts of eastern and southern Uttar Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, southern Orissa and parts of coastal Andhra Pradesh, the effects of which would be felt on Bengal, a senior functionary from the city Met office informed.

The continuous heavy rains have also affected cultivation of paddy and vegetables in north Bengal’s Jalpaiguri and Cooch Behar, damaging seedbeds of Aman paddy crop.

Even though June has the suitable climate for tea plantation due to normal rains and adequate sunlight, heavy rains from first week of July could severely affect tea production, fear garden owners.

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