With several districts of West Bengal getting flooded by water discharged from dams and barrages in Jharkhand and those maintained by the Damodar Valley Corporation (DVC), Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi seeking a permanent solution to the recurring problem. In a four-page letter sent on Tuesday, the chief minister alleged that the floods were “man-made” and caused by “uncontrolled and unplanned” discharge of water from DVC dams in Jharkhand’s Panchet and Maithon.
Referring to an earlier letter she had written on August 4 in this connection, Banerjee said, “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.” The TMC chief said she hasn’t received any reply to her previous letter. “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,” the letter read.
Banerjee also alleged that the DVC authorities did not pay heed to IMD warnings of heavy rainfall, and “kept the water discharge from the dams at a low level and when there was heavy rainfall, it 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”. She has also given a date-wise list of water discharged from Maithon and Panchet dams. “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,” she said. Incidentally, parts of south Bengal were flooded in early August, and Banerjee had alleged that the “man-made” disaster was caused due to excessive release of water by the DVC, claiming 16 lives and affecting lakhs of farmers.
Last week, Banerjee had held the Jharkhand government and the DVC responsible for the current flood situation in the southern part of West Bengal. She contended that it was caused due to unplanned and enhanced discharge of water from dams and barrages in Jharkhand without prior information to her administration.
Banerjee claimed that the reservoirs in Jharkhand have not been cleaned for the last 50 years, and warned of “massive protests” if dredging of dams and barrages was not done on an urgent basis to prevent the recurring floods.