Mamata trains gun on Centre for not dredging Farakka

Kolkata: Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Tuesday accused the Centre of not carrying out dredging in Farakka and other barrages for a long time, thereby causing food crisis in various parts of the state during heavy rains.

While speaking in the Assembly, Banerjee said the Centre has not taken any positive steps in this regard, despite repeated pleas by the Bengal government.

"There has been no dredging work in Farakka for years, as a result of which the water holding capacity of the barrage is getting reduced," she said and blamed the Damodar Valley Corporation (DVC) for not undertaking dredging work in various dams and barrages.

The Chief Minister also pointed out that Jharkhand and Bihar governments discharge a huge amount of water during monsoon, as a result of which a vast portion of the state gets flooded.

The matter has been raised with both the Bihar and Jharkhand governments, but no steps have been taken in this regard, Banerjee alleged.

She also said that river Atrai has been drying up after the Bangladesh government set up a dam on it and criticised the role of the Centre in not taking up the issue with Bangladesh.

"It is a bilateral issue. We have taken up the matter with the Prime Minister and External Affairs minister a number of times in this regard. Because of the dam, people from South Dinajpur district are suffering. However, the Centre has not taken up the issue despite our repeated requests," Banerjee told the House, in response to an opposition MLA's question in this regard.

The Atrai river flows from Siliguri into Bangladesh, before flowing back into South Dinajpur. It may be mentioned here that the nearly 400 km long river has been a source of livelihood to thousands of fishermen and farmers in the region. Its flow has been affected severely by the dam in Bangladesh. Following the construction, the riverbed had started going dry in summer.

The Chief Minister also said that various stretches in North Bengal also get flooded as Bhutan discharges water along the Sankosh River.

"We are suffering only because a huge amount of water gets discharged from outside. Jharkhand and

Bihar do not take any steps despite our requests to release water in lesser volume," Banerjee added.

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