June 7, 2009


Kolkata,5th June : In the wake of Cyclone Aila, the state government has roped in Reliance Industries to repair the breaches of Sunderbans embankments. It has placed an order of 15 lakh gunny bags from the Mukesh Ambani-owned company to repair 800 points along the 470-km-long embankment that has caused large-scale inundation of the area.

At Rs 7.22 per bag, the cost for the consignment will stand at about Rs 1 crore. The government will buy more gunny bags as it apprehends more breaches during the coming 10 kotals (high tides) till the year-end. “We have found Reliance gunny bags more durable and thus have placed the order,” Subhas Nashkar, State Minister for Irrigation, said on Thursday.

He added that in view of the bhora kotal (high tides) due on June 7 and 8 and the fresh depression looming over the Bay of Bengal, the state government has ordered the evacuation of around 25,000 people from six islands in both North 24-Parganas and South 24-Parganas. “Already, a large number of people have left on their own. We have asked remaining to do the same,” Nashkar said.

Personnel from the Army Engineering Corps and the Navy, who have been roped in for the project, have already begun work. Nashkar said the government plans to build brick-built houses for the people of Sunderbans. “We can use the money for Indira Awas Yojna, but I don’t think it will be adequate. So, we have to look for other avenues for money,” the minister said.

Low pressure areaEleven days after Aila hit the state, weather officials claimed a low pressure area is likely to form over the north of Bay of Bengal in the next 48 hours. However, no warning has been issued by the Regional Meteorological Office in this connection.

“Though we have not sent out any warning, we are passing the information to the government. It is too early to predict anything. The place where the depression is being formed is a little far from the mainland. We have to monitor how it is developing,” said G C Debnath, Director of the Regional Meteorological Centre, Alipore.

According to the officials, there is a possibility of rainfall over the Gangetic West Bengal till Friday noon. With the high tide on full moon set to hit the Sunderbans on June 7, large-scale inundation is being feared. If the low pressure develops further, there is a possibility of rainfall and storm. Thus, the state administration is trying to complete work on the embankments in Sunderbans as soon as possible.

Satellite images show the rotation and moisture content of the cloud clusters steadily increasing, resulting in probable formation of thunderclouds. However, with a few days to go, the clouds might weaken too. Though officials claimed a cyclone is unlikely, the fact remains that even a storm could be damaging during the high tide with the Sunderbans remaining vulnerable.

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