KOLKATA: At least two persons were killed and more than two million people across nine districts have been affected as West Bengal faces the second floods this monsoon season since July.
Chief minister Mamata Banerjee alleged that it was a ‘man-made flood’ as the Damodar Valley Corporation (DVC) authorities and Jharkhand government didn’t inform the West Bengal government before releasing huge amount of water from the barrages.
“This is a man-made flood. Water was released without informing us. This is a crime. We condemn this. This is not the first time that such things have happened,” said Mamata Banerjee while speaking to the media.
A low pressure system has triggered extremely heavy rainfall in some districts of south Bengal since September 29. Asansol in West Burdwan district and Bankura district received 434mm and 354mm rain, respectively, in one day – the heaviest rainfall the districts ever received in one day.
“This is the second flood to hit the state this season. According to preliminary reports, more than 2.2 million people have been affected and around 400,000 have been evacuated. Around 200,000 people have taken shelter in relief camps,” said West Bengal chief secretary HK Dwivedi.
The state government has deployed eight columns of army, 25 teams of NDRF and 24 teams of SDRF for relief and rescue operations.
In July-end and first week of August, the same districts were hit by floods when there was heavy rain and water was released from the barrages. Banerjee had then also called it a man-made floods. At least 16 people were killed then.
West Bengal government officials said DVC drastically increased the amount of water being discharged from the Panchet and Maithan dams into the Damodar river. They released around 49,000 cusecs on September 30 and by early October 1, this figure went up to 150,000 cusecs. Another 80,000 cusecs was also released from the Sikatiya barrage in Jharkahnd late on September 30, which was increased to 120,000 cusecs by Friday morning.
“This huge volume of water gushed down the rivers Damodar and Ajoy inundating many blocks in multiple districts downstream. In some blocks, the water level of the last flood was yet to recede when this water came,” said a senior official.
DVC, however, refuted the allegations that it acted unilaterally.
“DVC alone doesn’t decide when and how much water would be released. The Damodar Valley Reservoir Regulatory Committee decides it. A chief engineer-ranked official from the West Bengal government is a member of the committee,” a senior DVC official said.
He added that the committee was forced to release water since DVC area and the area downstream heavy rainfall on September 29 and 30. “The water released by the DVC together with the heavy rainfall downstream, triggered the flood. It was not in our hands,” the senior official said.
The chief minister is likely to undertake an aerial survey of some of the flood affected areas on Saturday.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) mounted a counterattack on the Mamata Banerjee government.
West Bengal BJP chief Sukant Majumdar said: “The chief minister is making baseless allegations. The state was informed about the release of water and yet they did nothing. Actually the flood was made by the chief minister so that she can get some money from the centre. When the central funds come, she would use it to give doles to clubs”.
Even though south Bengal has received heavy rains over the past few weeks, officials said there was a huge difference in rainfall across the states this year.
While at least nine districts in Wes Bengal, including Kolkata, have received excess rain, seven districts received normal rain. Three districts – Malda, South Dinajpur and North Dinajpur have received deficient rain.
Doonited Affiliated: Syndicate News Hunt