Normal life was thrown out of gear today as heavy rain and gusty winds lashed large parts of south Bengal due to the formation of a deep depression, which the weatherman warned might lead to more intense rain in the next two days. Kolkata had recorded 69.4 mm of rain over nine hours till 5.30 pm, a Meteorological Department official said. "Rainfall will occur at most places with heavy to very heavy rainfall at a few places and isolated extremely heavy rainfall over Gangetic West Bengal during the next 48 hours," Regional Met director G K Das said. Heavy to very heavy rain ranged from 7 cm to 20 cm, while extremely heavy rain measured above 20 cm, the MeT department explained. The heavy rain disrupted normal life in several parts of south Bengal, including Kolkata, where flight and train services and road transportation were affected. At least 95 flights from the Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose International Airport (NSCBIA) were either cancelled or rescheduled. Thirteen flights were cancelled and 82 were rescheduled, a senior Airports Authority of India (AAI) official said. The West Bengal government has set up a control room here to monitor the situation and provide assistance in case of any exigency, state Irrigation Minister Rajib Banerjee said. "We have also decided to set up control rooms in the districts where heavy rainfall has occurred and there is a forecast of more precipitation," he added. Das said the depression, which was centred 50 km south- east of Kolkata in the morning, intensified into a deep depression. "As an effect of the system, squally wind speed reaching 45-55 km per hour, gusting to 65 km per hour, will prevail along and off the West Bengal coast," he added. Fishermen have been advised not to venture into the sea till Wednesday morning, the Met department said. Strong wind speeds reaching 30-40 km per hour and gusting to 50 km per hour would prevail over the interior parts of Gangetic West Bengal, it added. The incessant rain and squally wind affected normal life in the metropolis on the first working day of the week. Waterlogging and uprooted trees blocked some thoroughfares of the city, affecting the movement of vehicles. Students of many schools, which reopened today after the Durga Puja vacation, were inconvenienced due to the downpour, while some schools declared a holiday in view of the rain that had started late last night. Flight services to and from the NSCBIA were disrupted because of the weather conditions. "While some domestic flights from the city had to be cancelled, some incoming flights were diverted to different airports after they failed to land here because of a gusty wind," NSCBIA Director Atul Dikshit said. National carrier Air India (AI) said five of its flights could not land at the airport here and were diverted to other destinations. While the Delhi-Kolkata and Delhi-Mumbai flights were diverted to Delhi and Ranchi respectively, a flight from Port Blair was diverted to Agartala.
Another flight from Silchar to Kolkata had to land at Guwahati and a flight from Agartala to Kolkata had to return, an AI spokesperson said. Only one flight from Hyderabad could land at the Kolkata airport this morning, he added. Some private airlines also had to cancel their flights, airport sources said. Eight AI flights scheduled to depart from Kolkata and five slated for arrival had been cancelled till 3.30 pm, the senior official said. At least 47 incoming flights and 35 outgoing flights were rescheduled, he added. Three pairs of EMU local trains of the Sealdah South section and four local trains of the Howrah-Bardhaman chord line in the Howrah division of the Eastern Railway (ER) had to be cancelled because of tree branches that had fallen on overhead wires, ER spokesman R N Mahapatra said. "All trains of the South Eastern Railway (SER) are running as per schedule and there is no disruption so far," SER spokesman Sanjoy Ghosh said. The incessant rain not only affected flights but also resulted in waterlogging in and around the airport, adding to the passengers' woes. Ankle-deep water in many parts of the city also led to traffic jams, the police said.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)