KOLKATA: The flood situation in north Bengal improved further today with no rainfall in the last 24 hours and the water level receding in all the major rivers. However, three more deaths were reported from the flood-hit districts, taking the toll to 52.
According to an officer at the state disaster management department's control room, three more deaths in flood-related incidents were reported from north Bengal in the last 24 hours.
As the situation has improved, the authorities have expedited the relief works.
"We are constantly monitoring the situation in the six districts. The district magistrates are working 24x7 distributing relief materials -- dry food, cooked food, drinking water pouches and medicines," the officer said.
He added that medical officers were conducting regular health check-ups of those living in the affected areas in order to counter an outbreak of water-borne diseases.
West Bengal Panchayat Minister Subrata Mukherjee said roads, as well as pipelines supplying drinking water, were badly damaged due to the floods.
"We are worried over the situation in the six north Bengal districts. We are also worried about the damage to the pipelines supplying water and the submersible pumps. The floods have destroyed many roads. The panchayat and rural development department will conduct a survey to assess the damage," he added.
The floods have affected about 15 lakh people in Coochbehar, Dakshin Dinajpur, Uttar Dinajpur, Jalpaiguri, Alipurduar and Malda districts of north Bengal since July 21.
With surface communication in the region still affected, the private airlines have hiked the price of air tickets between Kolkata and Bagdogra, the only functional airport in north Bengal. They are charging anywhere between Rs 12,000 and Rs 25,000 per ticket for a 456-km distance.
National carrier Air India's (AI) lowest price for a Bagdogra-Kolkata air ticket was Rs 3,315 and the highest Rs 9,736 today.
A Kolkata-Bagdogra AI ticket was priced between Rs 3,804 and Rs 9,421, an official from the airline said, adding, "We are trying to make available as many low-priced tickets as possible for this sector."
The state government had yesterday written to the civil aviation ministry about the "exorbitant" air tickets of some private airlines on the route.
"The state chief secretary has sent a letter to the civil aviation secretary, seeking his intervention as some private airlines are taking advantage of the situation and charging exorbitantly for a ticket between Bagdogra and Kolkata," Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had said.
The Eastern Railway (ER) is operating trains up to Malda from Kolkata. Train services beyond Malda have been suspended due to inundation of the railway tracks in north Bengal, Bihar and Assam.
Train services to different destinations of north Bengal and Assam from Howrah and Sealdah stations remained suspended for the sixth consecutive day today, an ER spokesman said.
The state government is plying 41 pairs of North Bengal State Transport Corporation (NBSTC) buses between different destinations of north Bengal, state Transport Secretary Alapan Bandyopadhyay said.
Bus services between the southern and northern parts of the state have remained suspended for the last five days owing to inundation of national highways 34 and 31 and state highways at different places of north Bengal.