8 columns of Army, almost 50 disaster mgmt teams in action

Kolkata: Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Friday accused the Damodar Valley Corporation (DVC) of creating a "man-made" flood in Bengal just days ahead of the state's biggest festival — Durga Puja — by releasing excessive water from its reservoirs in the wee hours without informing her government.

She stated that "it is a crime" on the part of the Centre and DVC to push lakhs of people in the face of man-made natural calamities over and again within such a short span of time.

This is the second time in the past two months when Banerjee accused the DVC of creating "man-made" floods in Bengal with even a team comprising senior ministers visiting Delhi after the floods in August to take up the issue with the Centre and the Niti Aayog.

At least two persons were killed and more than two million people across nine districts have been affected as Bengal faces the second floods this monsoon season since July.

The state government has deployed eight columns of Army, 25 teams of NDRF and 24 teams of SDRF for relief and rescue operations.

The Indian Army has been deployed in the flood-affected areas in Bengal including Asansol, Durgapur, Howrah, Hooghly districts, according to the Eastern Command on Friday.

"The cause of concern is that Bengal faces the consequences whenever there is heavy rainfall in Jharkhand and Bihar.

Maithon, Panchet and Tenughat can hold another 2 lakh cusec water if dredging had been done. But they did not undertake the work in the past 50 years and Bengal bears its consequences. This is a crime and I condemn such an attitude as the flood is taking place only because of excessive release of water from DVC reservoirs. It is a man-made flood," the Chief Minister said.

Banerjee, who would be taking an aerial view of the affected areas on Saturday, said: "We requested 101 times to dredge the reservoirs. But it fell on deaf ears. As a result, the people of Bengal are facing its consequences at the time of Durga Puja. Our government is taking all measures to stand beside the affected people. We will help them get the compensation for the losses they have faced due to the floods."

She further added: "We are sad that they have created a flood ahead of Durga Puja and it is causing grave pain to common people."

She reiterated that a major part of the state's exchequer goes out fighting natural disasters. This comes when Bengal has witnessed Yaas and two subsequent floods in South Bengal. She urged the people to donate to the Chief Minister's Relief Fund and assured that it would be used to help people only during times of distress. At the same time, she took a dig at the PM Cares fund terming it to be a private entity.

Banerjee also announced sending senior ministers, including Subrata Mukherjee, Firhad Hakim, Moloy Ghatak, Pulak Roy and Swapan Debnath to the affected districts to supervise the rescue and restoration work.

While speaking about flood-hit Asansol, she said: "The situation in Asansol turned worse as it had received all-time high 345 mm rainfall and at the same time, they (DVC) had released water from Jharkhand at 3 am on Wednesday without informing us. Besides Asansol, major parts of Bankura and Purulia have gone under water. Again they (DVC) released above 1 lakh cusec water on Thursday. Though the situation has slightly improved in Asansol, major parts of East Burdwan, Purulia, Bankura, Howrah and Hooghly are badly affected."

Banerjee said she was in constant touch with Chief Secretary HK Dwivedi to take stock of the situation even amidst her Bhabanipur bypoll. "We are taking reports every hour from all the affected districts and evacuating lakhs of people to safer places," she said.

She also expressed her concern as a high tide will take place on Mahalaya (October 6).

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