'Want permanent solution to man-made floods in Bengal'
Kolkata: Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Wednesday wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi seeking immediate intervention for a permanent solution to the menace of "man-made" flood that repeatedly affects Bengal due to "uncontrolled and unplanned discharge of water from Damodar Valley Corporation's dams at Panchet and Mython" in Jharkhand.
The recent floods badly affected more than 30 lakh people in eight South Bengal districts, claimed 16 lives and left more than 1 lakh houses damaged.
Banerjee, in her four-page letter, expressed her annoyance over the Centre's indifference to respond to the menace that affects "millions of lives" despite her letter to the Prime Minister in this connection earlier on August 4.
Stating that this is for the second time in this monsoon period within a short span of three to four months when lakhs of people have been marooned and displaced from their homes due to heavy discharge of water, Banerjee wrote: "Kindly refer to my earlier letter dated August 4 when I had highlighted the structural factors that give birth to grave man-made flood situation in southern Bengal, repeatedly, pitifully and tragically. Unless the Government of India addresses the basic underlying structural and managerial issues, both on a short term and on a long-term basis, the disasters will continue unmitigated in our lower riparian state. I am sorry to say that my earlier letter to you has not yet been responded by the Government of India. The issues that I raised affect millions of lives, and I request that the Government of India should get into some serious actions without further delay."
Accusing the DVC authorities of keeping the water discharge from the dams at a low level despite a clear window of four days when the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) had alerted of a "well marked low pressure depression and an orange warning of heavy rainfall on September 28", the Chief Minister stated in her letter: "When there was heavy rainfall, DVC discharged about 10 lakh acre-feet of water between September 30 and October 2, which caused serious devastation in lower Damodar region before the festive season".
Providing a date-wise list of water discharged from Maithon and Panchet dams, Banerjee stated that 49,000 cusecs water was discharged from Panchet and Maithon dam at noon on September 30 while within an hour, the discharge went up to 1 lakh cusecs at 1 pm and was 1.25 lakh cusecs at 8.30 pm. Again, there were 1.50 lakh cusecs and 1.25 lakh cusecs released at 8.15 am and 5.30 pm the next day. On the third consecutive day, there was release of 95,000 cusecs and 90,000 cusecs at 10 am and 11 pm on October 2.
She, similarly, gave the details of water discharge from Sikatia Barrage of the Jharkhand government that resulted in flooding of Ajoy river.
She further stated that her government has to bear the brunt of the unplanned discharge of the DVC and to pay for the inadequacy and structural deficiency of the DVC management as "it has to compensate for the damages caused to a vast multitude of the people in the districts of South Bengal (Howrah, Hooghly, East and West Burdwan, Bankura, Purulia, East and West Midnapore) from out of its own meager resources, while adequate funds are not made available by the Centre or NDRF".
She further added: "This annual problem requires immediate short-term and long-term measures so that the sufferings of the people are mitigated and the national loss in terms of loss of life and property is avoided. I seek your kind immediate intervention so that the Ministry concerned of the Government of India is requested to engage with the Governments of West Bengal and Jharkhand and the authorities of the DVC, to help in arriving at a permanent solution to this problem of our state occurring year after year."