West Bengal floods recede, but toll rises to 33June 23rd, 2008 - 10:26 pm ICT by IANS
Kolkata, June 23 (IANS) West Bengal’s flood toll rose to 33 Monday, though the situation improved in East and West Midnapore districts with all rivers receding. However, accusations surfaced over alleged bias in the distribution of relief. Residents in two areas of East Midnapore district put up road blocks in protest and the Congress party alleged that only the supporters of the state’s ruling Left Front spearhead Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) were getting the emergency supplies.
“Thirty-three persons, 21 from West Midnapore and 12 from East Midnapore, have died till Monday afternoon. About 200 persons are missing from the two districts,” said a senior police official here.
West Midnapore district magistrate N.S. Nigam said the Subarnarekha and Keleghai rivers, in spate for the past few days, were now flowing below the danger level.
“Except Belda and Jalchak I and II areas, water is fast receding from the district. Waters of the Subarnarekha and Keleghai rivers have gone below the danger level,” Nigam told IANS over telephone.
An East Midnapore district official said Patashpur I and II, Egra, Pankskura, Ramnagar and Bhagwanpur areas continued to be waterlogged, though the water was fast decreasing in other areas.
Defence spokesperson R.K. Das said air-dropping of relief was stopped in both districts Monday, though the army continued rescue operations in East Midnapore.
“The state government has asked us to stop air-dropping of relief Monday onwards saying there is no need of air effort. So we have diverted the helicopters to flood-prone areas of neighbouring Orissa,” Das said.
He added: “Rescue operations are still going on in East Midnapore. Till now 910 persons have been rescued by the army and air force from two districts.”
West Bengal Congress vice president Manas Bhuniya alleged: “Only CPI-M supporters at Sabong in West Midnapore are getting relief. The situation is the same in other parts of the district.”
Residents of Bajkul village and tourist resort of Digha in East Midnapore blocked the roads to their respective localities for an hour protesting against what they termed as unfair relief distribution.
East Midnapore district magistrate Anup Agarwal called an all-party meeting Sunday evening and requested all political activists to ensure fair distribution of relief.