West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee Friday held Jharkhand and DVC responsible for the current "man made" flood in the southern part of the state and contended that it was caused due to the unplanned and enhanced discharge of water from dams and barrages in the neighbouring state without information. The lack of dredging in dams and barrages by Jharkhand has led to excessive discharge of water causing the flood situation in Bengal, she said and urged the government of that state to carry out dredging in its reservoirs.
Banerjee warned of "massive protest" if dredging of dams and barrages is not done to prevent recurrence of floods. Opposition BJP and the Congress said that Damodar Valley Corporation (DVC) always apprised the Bengal government before releasing excess water and this time was no exception.
Veteran TMC MP Sougata Roy shot back saying "What BJP or Congress says on the issue is blatantly false," and insisted that DVC released water without consulting the West Bengal government. Banerjee said "If this (flood) would have occured after heavy rainfall we would have understood (the situation) and tackled it. But it took place because of the discharge of water from the dams and barrages by Jharkhand and DVC. I request them to carry out dredging for Bengal cannot keep facing similar situation every time there is heavy rainfall. "This is absolutely unjust. We have been protesting against this unplanned enchanced discharge from dams and barrages for quite some time. I am protesting against this. This may spiral into a massive agitation, which I do not want," she cautioned. The Bengal chief minister alleged that excess water was discharged following heavy rainfall on the intervening night of Wednesday and Thursday at around 3 a m without information. "This is a crime. If excessive water is released without information in the dead of the night, how will people save themselves? "The discharge resulted in flooding in Asansol, Bankura and Purulia. Again yesterday, DVC discharged around one lakh cusec of water," she said. Banerjee claimed that reservoirs in Jharkhand have not been cleaned in the last 50 years and that her repeated requests for the same were also not heeded.
"If the cleaning processes had been carried out in time, the dams and barrages would have held more water. The problem is if there is heavy rainfall in Jharkhand and Bihar we (Bengal) have to face the consequences", she said. Banerjee said that she was sad that the flood took place just before the Durga Puja and affected lakhs of people. She also expressed fear that the situation may deteriorate on Mahalaya day before the pujas when the high tide takes place. CriticisIng the way the Prime Minister Cares Fund is spent by the Centre, the TMC supremo, who is one of the bitterest criticis of BJP, requested the common people to contribute to the CM Relief Fund promising them that assistance from it will reach the affected.
"I will request people to contribute to the CM Relief Fund. It is not PM Cares Fund … The CM Relief Fund will be used for the right purpose and reach those affected," she said. Banerjee also assured the affected people of compensation. "Do not worry, our government will take care of you. We will compensate for your losses … Even though we are almost without funds after providing compensation every time. We will continue to provide compensation," the CM said. The chief minister said that she will conduct an aerial survey of the flood-affected areas of the state on Saturday. "If the weather is good I will visit Bankura, Purulia, Bardhaman, Howrah and Hooghly and Medinipur," she said.
Banerjee said that senior leaders of her party like Firhad Hakim, Malay Ghatak among others will supervise the flood-situation in the affected districts where around one lakh people have been evacuated to safe shelters. Leader of Opposition Suvendu Adhikari told reporters that the chief minister is "not speaking the truth" as any decision on release of water cannot be unilaterally taken by DVC.
"The Hon'ble CM is trying to shift the blame to DVC to hide her government's failure to come to the aid of the people, shift those marooned to safer places and provide relief and rehabilitation. This is her old game," Adhikari, who had been a minister in the earlier governments headed by Mamata Banerjee, said. BJP state president Sukanta Majumder said he has WhatsApp image of DVC's intimation to the state before the release of water from its dams. 'If you want I can share the screenshot of that with the media," he said.
WBPCC president Adhir Chowdhury too said the state is always apprised before any release of water from DVC's barrages. "It is absurd that the state government was not taken into confidence". TMC state spokesman Kunal Ghosh said "Adhikari was irrigation minister when he was with the Mamata Banerjee government. We oppose the cheap politics of BJP." Banerjee had alleged that the flood in early August in parts of south Bengal too were "man made", caused by excessive release of water by DVC from its barrages which had hit lakhs of farmers and claimed 16 lives.
According to the report of the state irrigation department, water discharged from down Durgapur barrage till 5.30 pm on Thursday was 2,04,000 cusec, while the combined discharge of DVC was 1,00,000 cusec. The report said the combined discharge from Darakeswar and Gandheswari dams at Bankura was 1,20,000 cusec, while it was 3000 cusec from Mayurakshi dam. Tilpara barrage in Panagarh discharged 12,000 cusec, Sikatia barrage on Ajoy river discharged 90,000 cusec and Kangsabati dam 30,000 cusec.
Asansol and Bankura recorded their highest rainfall in history in 24 hours till Thursday morning. Asansol in West Burdwan recorded 434.5 mm rainfall, while Bankura town, the headquarter of Bankura district, recorded 354.3 mm rain during the period, it said. Durgapur recorded 200 mm rainfall, Purulia 170 mm, Kangsabati 140 mm and Phulberia 110 mm, it said. State chief secretary H K Dwivedi had on Thursday held a high-level meeting at the state secretariat with senior government officials, secretary to the irrigation department, district magistrates and police superintendents and other officers and directed them to take precautionary measures to contain the situation. He had also directed them to be ready with the relief materials.