The flood situation in southern West Bengal remained grim on Tuesday with the death toll reaching around 90. Almost 60 lakh people were in utter distress even as the water level in most rivers in the region started receding.
Government sources said around a lakh houses were submerged while several thousand hectares of agricultural land were damaged across 12 districts of the state.
“Close to 80 lakh hectare of farmland have been damaged and more than 10,000 cattle have been lost,” said Chief Minister Banerjee, whom Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh assured the Centre’s help in rescue operations.
The damage in the agriculture sector has left a serious affect on the markets.
Prices of vegetables and other food items have shot up sharply and although state Agriculture Minister Purnendu Basu felt things were under control and the prices wouldn’t spiral even if the flood water receded after a week, other quarters had different thoughts. “The acute shortage of vegetables could keep prices sky high for the next 3-4 months,” said a member of the chief minister’s task force on agriculture. The farmers’ organisations also believe that the worst is yet to come.
In Kolkata and adjoining areas, onion is selling at Rs 50 a kilogram (kg) compared to Rs 38 from before the flood.
Prices of other vegetables have also shot up by at least Rs 10-20 a Kg. While farmers’ organisations apprehend prices of brinjal and cabbage to shoot up over the next month, chillies are currently going at RS 120 a kg, which was Rs 80 even 10 days ago.
Over 4 lakh in camps
Meanwhile, sources in the state Disaster Management Task Force (DMTF), which has placed over four lakh people in around 2,500 relief camps across South Bengal, said the maximum casualties were caused by lightning strikes, structural collapse, electrocution, drowning and snake bites.