Large swaths of agricultural land flooded in eastern India after cyclone

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KOLKATA, India, May 28 (Reuters) – More than 96,000 hectares (237,221 acres) of farmland was inundated in parts of an eastern Indian state hit by a powerful storm this week, have officials announced Friday, a year after the coastal region was ravaged by a super cyclone.

Cyclone Yaas swept across the Bay of Bengal on Wednesday, triggering storm surges that swept through dykes in West Bengal state, hitting particularly hard the ecologically sensitive Sundarbans Delta which stretches into neighboring Bangladesh.

The West Bengal government’s initial assessment showed that water had entered about 96,650 hectares of land on which crops were planted, a state official said.

“Further flooding was reported in many areas during high tides as dikes were left with gaping holes,” West Bengal Fisheries Minister Akhil Giri told Reuters.

In the Sundarbans, still reeling from damage from Cyclone Amphan last year, residents said large swathes of farmland and freshwater ponds used for small-scale fishing had been inundated.

A man crosses a canal on a fallen tree from Cyclone Yaas in Digha, Purba Medinipur district, eastern West Bengal, India, May 27, 2021. REUTERS / Rupak De Chowdhuri

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“The area stinks of rotten fish and movement has become extremely difficult due to the standing water,” said Kanai Haldar, a resident of Raidighi in the Sundarbans, where spurs and dikes designed to hold back flood waters have been found. been damaged.

With climate change pushing up sea surface temperatures, the cyclonic storms arriving from the Bay of Bengal have become fiercer and more frequent, especially over the past decade, according to the researchers. Read more

Haldar, speaking to Reuters by phone, said damage from Yaas appeared to be greater compared to last year’s storm, due to the extent of seawater infiltration, which makes often agricultural land temporarily unsuitable for cultivation.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday inspected areas affected by the cyclone in West Bengal and neighboring Odisha state, which was directly in the storm’s path but suffered less damage.

“All possible assistance will be provided for the damage caused by Cyclone Yaas,” Modi said.

Written by Devjyot Ghoshal; Editing by Steve Orlofsky

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.


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