Cyclone Amphan: Protests across Kolkata as power, water crisis continues

Protests continued in several areas of Kolkata on Saturday as parts of the metropolis remained without water and power since cyclone Amphan ravaged the city.

From Behala in the south to Belgharia in the north, armed with placards, people blocked roads with empty buckets and utensils.

Protests were also reported from Sapuipara and Pallishree areas in Jadavpur, Garfa, besides Narkeldanga and Telangabagan.

The protesters, many of whom were women, said they are under extreme hardship as there was no electricity and water for the past three days and repeated calls to power utilities CESC and WBSEDCL went unanswered.

They said that due to the power cut they cannot pumpwater from the supply lines to the tanks of their respective houses, leading to a dire situation amid the rising mercury.

While some of the protesters blamed the lack of preparedness on the part of the Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC) despite repeated warnings of the severity of the cyclone by the weather office, many pointed fingers at the response of the power utilities to the crisis.

“There has been no word from CESC on when the power will be restored. A tree, which fell on the transformer in our area, was not removed. The KMC staff said they don’t have the tools, while CESC said they can start work only after the tree is removed. We are living in inhuman conditions,” a middle-aged man from Jadavpur said.

Many others said they cannot continue with work from home due to the lack of power and internet connectivity.

“We are forced to buy mineral water cans at higher prices. Forget about working from home, we can’t even take baths and do other normal things,” said a woman, who is in her 20s, in the Garfa area.

Police had to chase away protesters at Dopariya in Ghola area off Kalyani Expressway as the blockade continued for over an hour.

Officials said locals refused to lift the blockade till power lines were restored in the area, following which police had to step in.

With uprooted trees blocking several arterial roads, police faced a tough time to keep the city moving as the blockades continued.

A police officer said protesters in some areas went back to their homes after persuasions and assurances.

Officials of the two power utilities said with thousands of trees uprooted across the city, it was taking time for restoration of electricity.

Power was being restored in phases, they said.

Similar protests were held on Friday as well in several areas, which people said have turned into islands as connectivity — power, water, internet, mobile network and cable television — remained severed following the cyclone.

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