At 4.40pm on Friday, about 48 hours after cyclone Amphan shook his apartment at a posh south Kolkata high-rise complex, Arup Ghosh, a senior executive with a national corporate firm, could make his first call in two days.
“My colleagues and I have been working from home ever since the coronavirus outbreak threw life out of gear. The cyclone battered it further,” he said. “There has been no electricity since Wednesday evening in the Panchasayar area, where my 85-year-old father lives,” Ghosh added.
The cyclone, which killed at least 15 people in the city, has snapped mobile and broadband services, and disrupted power connections with the storm uprooting hundreds of trees and electric poles. It has been a double whammy for the city, which is already battling to contain the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) outbreak.
With the Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC) not able to operate its pumps, citizens had to either buy water or collect from roadside taps. Hundreds of neighbourhoods plunged into darkness for the third consecutive evening on Friday.
Citizens staged agitations in localities such as Behala, Jadavpur, Bagha Jatin, demanding the restoration of power supply. Many did not wear masks and social-distancing norms took a back seat. Throughout the day, ministers and people’s representatives could be seen driving around the city.
“There is no electricity and water in my neighbourhood. People are facing a tough time,” said Trinamool Congress’s Lok Sabha member, Saugata Roy, who lives in the Lake Gardens area of south Kolkata.
Calcutta Electric Supply Corporation (CESC), the city’s sole power supplier, apologised to consumers on Twitter. “Dear All, We regret the inconvenience. We understand the delay in restoration and would like to inform you that our technical team is working towards restoring the power normalcy at the earliest. We would once again request your kind cooperation,” it said.
Tapas Roy, minister of state for parliamentary affairs and a legislator from central Kolkata, said, “Hundreds of people in my constituency are living without power and water. Restoring this is our first priority. We must admit that neither the KMC nor CESC has the infrastructure to deal with a calamity of this magnitude.”
State power minister Sobhandeb Chattopdhyay: “Our people are working overtime to remove the fallen trees. High transmission feeder lines have been damaged in most places.”