The death toll in floods in West Bengal rose to 97 today even as the situation improved with the water level receding slowly following little or no rain and reduced water discharge from barrages. Disaster Management Department officials said the toll rose to 97 after 12 more deaths were reported today. As the water level receded some people in the relief camps started returning to their homes. "Altogether, 2,719 relief camps have been set up to shelter nearly 4.19 lakh marooned people. Also 592 medical camps have been opened," the officials said. A total 89 lakh people have been affected and 1,26,594 houses were damaged. As many as 4,24,140 houses have been damaged partly, while crop over an area of 9,45,433 hectares has been damaged. The affected areas included 235 blocks, 55 municipal bodies, four municipal corporations and 814 gram panchayats (GPs) covering 17,546 villages, they said. Steps were also being taken to protect the affected people from health hazards and medicines and drinking water pouches were being distributed, they added.
Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee told reporters at the NSCB International Airport before leaving for North Bengal that the flood situation in the state was under control. "Flood situation in the state is now under control and the review committee constituted to assess the floods is continuously monitoring the situation. I will personally chair a meeting on the flood situation on Monday on my return," she said. Banerjee said, she would be laying the foundation stone of a bridge over River Teesta, which would connect Haldibari and Mekhligunge, during her visit to North Bengal. "This bridge, which will be constructed at an estimated cost of Rs 440 crore, was a long-standing demand of the people of Cooch Behar district as well as the people living in the enclaves. It will also directly connect the two places, saving time and making way for faster connectivity," he said. Meanwhile, a statement from the Damodar Valley Corporation (DVC) today said water released from its dams at Maithon was 25,000 cusecs and Panchet was 40,000 cusecs, respectively till 7 PM yesterday. The combined water holding capacity of the two dams was 1.10 lakh cusecs, the statement added.