Cyclone Aila cripples East

Cyclone Aila cripples East
While Orissa faced the full wrath of the cyclone, Bengal puts up a brave challenge
Avishek Rakshit
Friday, May 29, 2009
KOLKATTA, INDIA: The cyclone which took on Bengal and Orissa on May 25th evening, left the eastern coastal region paralyzed for two days; Kolkata and Bhubaneswar dared the gale.

Christened Aila, the cyclone has taken its toll on the market in the two states, with the cyclonic trough of 250-350km in diameter and winds speeding up to 120kmph. At least 82 people have been killed across West Bengal and over 1,800 trees uprooted in the metro.

Also, electric poles have keeled over endangering short circuits leaving water supply across the city in a total state of chaos. Also, traffic systems have been brought to a halt with blocked roads lying unattended, and even the Metro Railways crashed down.

“The cyclone set in late night on Sunday and raged on for the next day. It was total chaos and especially Puri, Cuttak, Chandrapura and Balasore have been severely affected. The cyclone has left the state capital devastated with uprooted trees blocking the roads, and broken lamp-posts bringing in the fear of short circuits and electric shocks,” said Prasant Kumar Swain of Bhubneshwar-based Nigama Comptech and Services.

“After the cyclone, life in the city has halted for two days. Already business has been affected by the global slowdown and the declaration of the examination results. Now, with the cyclone setting in, we are facing not only a chaotic situation in the state but incurring heavy losses in the trade,” Swain added.

Across Orissa, logistics has been halted for about a week with waterlogged areas in the upcountry regions looking forward to government relief. Also, as employees in the stores in the region are returning home in the upcountry, dealers are facing an employee crunch in the state.

The case is similar in West Bengal, where the state capital Kolkata is witnessing the aftermath of Aila. For two days, nearly half of the city went without water and electric supply with frustrated protesters across the city resorting to mob fury and road blockades in major traffic crossings.

Also, communication across the state came to a standstill for an entire day with Buddhadev Bhattacharya, CM of the state admitting that telephone lines has been cut down and even mobile phone networks laying jammed all through.

“There are few customers in the shop. There is no water and electricity in many parts of the city till day and people are resorting to road-blocks frustrated with these problems. Also, outstation customers are not coming here knowing the state of the city and sales has been direly hit. However, there are no logistical problems crippling here and sufficient stocks are there in the godowns,” said Kolkata-based Gaurav Goel of Eastern Logica.

However, compared to the scenario in Bhubaneswar, Kolkata is better off. Speaking about the issue, Kolkata-based Chandra Prakash Shaw of Lotte Computers stated, “Kolkata has not been direly affected by Aila. There has not been much of an impact over the sales due to the gale and life is normal in the shop. However, some parts of the city is still waterlogged and there is no electricity.”

The situation is also the same in Bengal upcountry. As heavy rains battered the hills, landslides either washed away or damaged houses, and roads in Darjeeling and Kurseong subdivisions. Darjeeling was cut off from the plains as rain and swirling mountain torrents devastated Hill Cart Road (NH-55), Pankhabari Road and Rohini Road.

As strong winds uprooted trees and electric and telephone poles, the hills went without electricity and phone services were down.

Traffic on Hill Cart Road was closed after two mountain torrents, Khaharay and Whilstle Khola, washed away portions of it near Kurseong town. A landslip obstructed movement of traffic on Dowhill Road in Kurseong. Fire brigade, police and civil defense personnel were deployed for rescue operations. At some places, GJM’s police wing Gorkhaland Personnel was engaged to combat the situation.

However, Siliguri dealers did not report any considerable damage due to the storm.

“The road to Darjeeling and Kurseong has been blocked and the hills are laying cut off from the Siliguri plains. However, there has not been any considerable damage in business here due to the showers,” said Siliguri-based Bijay Agarwal of Computer Shoppe.

Also, Hoogly, where Aila was at its worst, has been normal throughout the week. Although dealers reported improper rescue operations worsening the infrastructural part, they are confident that trading has not been affected.

“There have not been any issues with trading. On Monday, we had shut ourselves against the storm and had to close early. But, next day onwards, we did not have to suffer any business loses. Also, logistics is at a normal flow,” said Mrinmoy Banerjee of Hoogly-based Horizon Computers.

Reinstating the statement, Pinakiranjan Banerjee of Bankura-based Galaxy said, “The situation here is quite normal. Although in the villages, there has been considerable damage because of the cyclone, here, business is normal. We are having our regular customers and there are no issues or complaints regarding flow of materials. Trading is normal here.”

Nevertheless, the cyclone Aila which had bring in havoc for Orissa and Bengal has a positive side too. Aided by the cyclone Aila, monsoon has arrived in the Northeast a week before its scheduled date of June 1, bringing relief to the people exhausted with the hot and humid summers.


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