Parties take up Atrai dam issue ahead of Assembly polls
A dam on river Atrai situated in Bangladesh has emerged as a burning issue for all the political parties ahead of the polls in two Assembly constituencies of South Dinajpur. The construction of dam has affected water flow in these two constituencies.
The river originates in Bangladesh. It enters India in Kumarganj and flows for around 40 km in two adjacent Assembly constituencies in South Dinajpur district - Kumarganj and Balurghat – before re-entering Bangladesh.
The dam is constructed 4 km from the border of Kumarganj inside Bangladesh. The issue came to light a few months before, when a security agency looked into the satellite image of the area. The local Trinamool Congress MLA from Balurghat Shankar Chakraborty had taken up the matter to the state government.
The state irrigation department had discussed the matter with the Centre. The Union government has assured to take up the matter to the international platform and state government cannot do much without assistance from Centre.
With the construction of the dam, the level of water in the stretch that flows through India has gone down compared to the previous years. The navigability in the river has suffered and in many parts it is getting dried up. Irrigation in the area is also getting affected.
Around 60,000 people reside on both sides of the river in Kumarganj and Balurghat. Thus, almost all political parties have taken up the issue and have marked it to be the most important political agenda to woo voters. They assured voters to take up necessary steps to resolve the issue.
Shankar Chakraborty, who had won by receiving 54.27 per cent votes in 2011 Assembly polls, is contesting from the same Balurghat Assembly constituency this time. Chakraborty told Millennium Post that the matter was taken up soon after it came to their notice and was considered to be a very important issue. Steps have already been taken to resolve it. The state government has spoken to the Centre and hopefully the matter will be settled soon.
Candidates of Left Front have also taken up the issue and are trying to make people understand that government of Trinamool Congress has not taken any steps in this regard.
In a bid to make people aware of the ground situation, Trinamool Congress leaders and workers in the two constituencies are highlighting that the state government cannot do much until the Centre takes up the matter seriously. At the same time the party leaders are saying that the state government has repeatedly urged the Centre to take initiatives to resolve the matter.