India – Thousands Evacuate Floods in West Bengal, 400mm of Rain in 24 Hours

Disaster authorities report that more than 500,000 people have evacuated their homes after severe flooding in the state of West Bengal, eastern India.

Floods rescue in Bankura, West Bengal, India, October 2021. Photo: District Magistrate Bankura

According to a report of 02 October 2021 from India’s National Emergency Response Centre (NERC), flooding has affected more than 2.6 million people across the districts of Purba Medinipur, South 24 Parganas, North 24 Parganas, Jhargram, Bankura, Purulia, Paschim Bardhaman, Purba Baddhaman, Hooghly, Howrah, Kolkata and Birbhum.

Many of those affected have evacuated their homes. NERC reported that at least 500,000 people displaced and 1,100 emergency relief camps have been set up. Local media reported 11 fatalities since 30 September including 3 in Hooghly and 5 in Bankura. Flooding has also caused extensive damage to crops, in particular rice.

Parts of the state have seen heavy rain has since mid-September. A low pressure area increased the rainfall intensity over the last few days. In a 24 hour period to 01 October, the city of Asansol in Paschim Bardhaman district recorded 340mm of rain, while the neighbouring town of Raniganj recorded 400 mm.

West Bengal’s Irrigation and Waterways Department reported rivers including the Ajoy, Dwarakeswar and Damodar were above “Extreme Danger Level” in 21 locations. Releases from dams and barrages in the state and neighbouring Jharkhand increased river levels further.

NERC said, as of 02 October, heavy discharges from barrages was still on-going, inundating more areas in Howrah, Hoogly, Bankura, Birbhum, Paschim Bardhaman, Purba Baddhaman and Paschim Medinipur districts.

This is the fourth spate of flooding to affect the state this year. In May, heavy rainfall from Cyclone Yass caused flooding and damage. Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee told reporters that about 20,000 mud houses and temporary shelters had been damaged.

Air Force helicopters and rescue teams from the Indian Army were deployed to flooded areas in the state on 02 August 2021. Fourteen people lost their lives after days of heavy rain from 14 September 2021.