Kolkata: West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Thursday slammed the Damodar Valley Corporation (DVC) following a flood-like situation in the state.
Accusing the DVC and Jharkhand government for the current situation in Bengal, she called the situation a ‘man-made disaster’. “I must point out that the reason behind the flood is not completely due to natural causes. These are man-made floods, as we are witnessing in Bengal,” she said.
Banerjee held an administrative meeting and surveyed Amta (Howrah), Khanakul (Hooghly) and in Joypur (Bankura) to monitor the situation. So far, nearly 16 people were killed due to rain related incidents.
More than 12 districts are under water and the disaster management team pressed in the action to ensure relief material to the affected people. Two lakh hectare agricultural land is affected and relief and medical camps were set up.
She demanded that the DVC should immediately be reformed by the Centre. “The work of dredging in Ganga is pending for several years now. Dredging has not been done in Kolkata, nor in Haldia. There are several barrages under DVC which should have been cleaned and dredged. They are filled with silt. Had that been done, the water storage capacity would have increased by 2 lakh cusecs,” Banerjee said.
“Since 2012, we have raised the issue of water-release by DVC. But no action has been taken. Even today they have released more than 1 lakh cusec of water. Low-lying areas of Labhpur in Birbhum district, Purulia, Ghatal in West Medinipur and Goghat, Arambagh in Hooghly districts have been inundated. This is caused mostly due to the discharge of water by DVC from its barrages,” she added.
A senior state irrigation ministry official said, even after having a capacity to contain water up to 425 feet in the Panchet dam, DVC released water from the dam when the level was 417 ft. “This can be attributed to the lack of dredging of the river and not removing the encroachments there,” he added.
Meanwhile, the state government has taken several pre-emptive measures to bring the situation under control. Measures like prior warnings to fishermen, setting up a control at the State Secretariat Nabanna, and distributing tarpaulin sheets in all affected areas has saved the lives of lakhs of people in the state.
Trinamool Congress MP Saugata Roy raised the issue in the parliament and accused the Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his step motherly attitude towards Bengal. He said, “Our PM went for an aerial survey of floods in Gujarat and sanctioned Rs 500 crore for flood relief, which is all right. But, he did not come to visit Assam, which is badly flood-affected or Rajasthan, let alone Bengal. We want the Prime Minister to deal with all the flood-affected states on equal footing and take adequate steps for the man-made floods in Bengal.”