Kolkata, May 26: High tides alongside Cyclone Yaas wreaked havoc in West Bengal after the latter made its landfall off the Balasore coast at Dhamra in Odisha at about 9:15 am on Wednesday. Strong winds and heavy tides saw seawater inundating many coastal towns and villages in Odisha and West Bengal ahead of the landfall.
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee later informed reporters that over a crore people had been affected by the cyclone in West Bengal. In Digha the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) and the Indian Army was called in to help the civil administration initially.
Over three lakh houses had been damaged by the cyclone and the accompanying high tide in the state, the CM said. Agriculture, irrigation and the fish farming sectors had been most affected by the cyclone .
The CM also took part in a virtual presentation with various top ranking officials in the state from the state's control room at Nabanna on Wednesday afternoon. About 124 embankments had also been damaged by the cyclone, she said. About 1.5 million people had been shifted to relief camps in the state.
About 14,000 relief camps are functional in the state with relief worth ten crore rupees already been disbursed to affected blocks by the district administrartion. Low lying areas in South 24 Parganas and East Medinipur districts have been affected by the cyclone and the high tide. Kalighat-Chetla-Rasbihari in Kolkata were also inundated due to the high tide.
Amongst the blocks in the state Hingalganj, Hasnabad, Haroa,Nandigram, Patharpratima, Kulpi, Basanti, Budge Budge, Digha, Shankarpur, Ramnagar, Tajpur, Kanthi,Sutahata, Kolaghat, Uluberia ,Shyampur, Bagnan and Sankrail were the most-affected by the cyclone and high tide .
As the water level rose to nearly between six to seven feet saline water had innundated floriculture and pisciculture tracts and even animal husbandry has been disturbed in the state. The CM also said that it was a preliminary assesment and that detailed damage to agricultulture and livelihoods would be assessed in detail in the coming days.
Banerjee added that river embankments and roads in South 24 Parganas and East Medinipur had suffered quite a bit a damage, that the Kapil Muni Ashram had been inundated, and that villages in the two districts had suffered quite a lot of damage.
The CM directed offiicers to take measures so that paddy cultivation in saline water may be taken up. She said that the swarna variety of rice could be grown in saline water and that farmers from the region should be educated about the same. Even pisciculture could be taken up in saline water, she added.
Five sub-divisions and blocks in West Bengal and four in Odisha were intially expected to be inundated with the most inundation in Bhadrak district of up to nine kms inland. The reason behind the ferocity of the storm was also due to full-moon activity, according to India Meteorological Department officials.
Scenes of sea water gushing through the streets of Digha were witnessed and of earthmovers and jeeps turning over as tidal water came in from the sea.
The neighbouring state of Jharkhand had imposed a complete lockdown in some parts to prevent people from venturing out in view of the storm while as many as eight lakh people have already been impacted by it. Cyclone Yaas, packing winds of up to 130-145 kmph, whiplashed the country's eastern coasts on Wednesday, dumping heavy rain, damaging houses and farmlands, and leaving at least four persons dead – three in Odisha and one in Bengal.
More than 21 lakh people had to be evacuated to safe shelters in the states of West Bengal, Odisha and Jharkhand.
People in 128 villages in Balasore and Bhadrak district in Odisha remained marooned as gushing seawater cut off road links to them. Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik announced seven days relief for these villages. Patnaik also directed officials to repair all roads within 24 hours. As many as 605 roads have been damaged of which 495 have been repaired in Jagatsinghpur, Kendrapara, Jajpur, Balasore and Bhadrak districts.
In certain areas, the waves were seen surging as high as the coconut trees that line the popular beaches. A school, situated along the coast in Shankarpur, was washed away by the high and mighty sea waves.
Yaas is the second cyclonic storm to hit India within a week after Tauktae tore into its western coast, causing death and destruction.
With PTI Inputs