India's worst floods this century are now threatening food supplies to Calcutta, the country's largest city.
India's worst floods this century are now threatening food supplies to Calcutta, the country's largest city. Officials fear that starvation could follow in the wake of the floods, which have already killed hundreds of people and led to a cholera epidemic.
SYNOPSIS: Here near the border with Bangladesh the Icchamati River has burst its banks, leaving flood waters up to 12 feet (four metres) deep. Some jute-an important cash crop-has been saved, but for most local farmers the floods have been a disaster. They have lost their homes, their belongings and their livelihoods.
About two hundred thousand people have been affected; fifty thousand homes have been destroyed and 2,000 cattle washed away. Normally the area supplies Calcutta with most of its rice and other vegetables.
But since the floods came, the price of rice has risen so steeply that the local people--including the farmers--can not afford to buy it. Most villagers have their own vegetable plots but now they are relying on emergency supplies.
The government's relief programme has been widely criticised, and officials admit there is a shortage of almost everything. When the food waters recede, they are expected to leave behind starvation and disease.