At least 15 more people died from the prevailing oppressive heat in Kolkata and the districts, taking the toll in the blistering summer heat across southern West Bengal to 45 in two days, police said. ”Five people each in Asansol in Burdwan and Jhargram in West Midnapore, three in Hooghly and one each in Kolkata and Howrah died Wednesday due to the extreme heat. Several people have been hospitalised across the state,” a police officer said. However, a light drizzle brought in relief as Kolkata’s temperature, hovering around 40 degrees Celsius, declined somewhat. There was more good news with the meteorological department forecasting thunderstorm accompanied by showers in Howrah, North and South 24-Parganas, Murshidabad, Malda and Hooghly in the next 24 hours.
But the condition of intense heat will continue to prevail in the western districts of Purulia, Birbhum, Bankura and West Midnapore, tghe weather office said. Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has expressed concern over the heat wave toll and instructed the district administrations to take precautionary steps. ”The chief minister has expressed deep concern over the rising number of deaths due to the heat and has asked the health department to issue necessary orders to the district administrations to take necessary steps,” Minister of State for Health Chandrima Bhattacharya said. On Banerjee’s order, traffic guards were given ORS packets and asked to carry umbrellas while working in the sun. Streets in Burdwan, Jhargram in West Midnapore were deserted as most people preferred to remain indoor. The blazing summer has prompted the Association of West Bengal Secretariat Assistants – a body of employees working in the state secretariat, the Writers’ Buildings – to demand chilled water and air conditioners. Additional beds, generators and fans are being provided to government-run hospitals in West Midnapore, Burdwan, Hooghly, Howrah and Birbhum, district officials said.
ORS packets, drinking water tanks and shelters along roads are being put up in the districts, said Bhattacharya. Government hospital staff have been asked not to take any leave. Thirty people reportedly died Tuesday in the heat wave.