Bengal flood: 23 dead, PM dials Mamata; CM accuses DVC of causing 'man-made' deluge

Heavy rain and subsequent discharge of water in the last few days have inundated large parts of Purba and Paschim Bardhaman, Paschim Medinipur, Hooghly, Howrah, South 24 Parganas and Birbhum districts.The death toll was 15 till Tuesday evening and the number of affected districts was six.A tweet issued by the Prime Ministers Office PMO said that Modi assured Banerjee of all support from the Centre to help mitigate the situation.PM narendramodi spoke to WB CM MamataOfficial on the flood situation caused by water discharge from dams in parts of the state.


PTI | Kolkata | Updated: 04-08-2021 21:26 IST | Created: 04-08-2021 21:22 IST
Bengal flood: 23 dead, PM dials Mamata; CM accuses DVC of causing 'man-made' deluge
File Photo Image Credit: ANI
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The flood situation in West Bengal worsened on Wednesday claiming eight more lives taking the toll to 23 as fresh areas went under water, with Chief Minister Mamata Bannerjee complaining to Prime Minister Narendra Modi that the Damodar Valley Corporation (DVC) caused the ''man-made'' deluge by releasing water from its dams in an unprecedented manner.

The DVC, however, said that it discharges water after taking consent of the state government and blaming it for the flood is not justified The prime minister telephoned Banerjee in the afternoon to take stock of the flood situation which affected seven districts of the state. During the talks, the CM blamed the DVC for the flood in the state and raised the issue in a letter she wrote to Modi in the evening. Heavy rain and subsequent discharge of water in the last few days have inundated large parts of Purba and Paschim Bardhaman, Paschim Medinipur, Hooghly, Howrah, South 24 Parganas and Birbhum districts.

The death toll was 15 till Tuesday evening and the number of affected districts was six.

A tweet issued by the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) said that Modi assured Banerjee of all support from the Centre to help mitigate the situation.

''PM @narendramodi spoke to WB CM @MamataOfficial on the flood situation caused by water discharge from dams in parts of the state. PM assured all possible support from the Centre to help mitigate the situation. PM Modi prays for the safety and wellbeing of those in affected areas,'' the PMO tweeted. Large swathes of Nanoor and Labhpur block in Birbhum districts were flooded since early Wednesday morning, leading to the displacement of more than 3000 people.

Banerjee surveyed parts of Howrah on Wednesday to take stock of the situation. The chief minister wrote to Modi claiming that desilting and dredging activities were not taken up and water-holding capacity of the DVC's dams was not increased, though the issues were raised way back in 2015.

The state is facing a ''grave man-made flood situation'' in some districts due to ''unprecedented'' release of water from the DVC dams at Panchet, Maithon and Tenughat, she alleged.

''In respect of the current flood, we will shortly be sending our damage assessment for your kind intervention. I would reiterate the need to develop holistic and long-term solutions in respect to the augmentation of the storage capacity of the DVC system to ensure that West Bengal is spared the regular devastation and suffering from man-made floods perpetrated by huge releases from the DVC dams,'' she said in the letter.

The DVC, since July 31, has released 6.38 lakh cusec of water till Wednesday afternoon. On Wednesday alone 95,000 cusecs in two tranches. The DVC, however, rejected the charge saying it does not decide about water regulation and decisions on this are taken by the Damodar Valley Reservoir Regulation Committee (DVRRC) where the state's irrigation secretary is a member. ''The DVC only implements the decision of the committee on water regulations. The state government's consent is taken before water discharge, and the DVC issues a warning to district administrations. So blaming DVC for the flood is unjustified,'' DVC executive director (Maithon) S Banerjee told PTI.

The DVC official said that the DVRRC tries to restrict water release to the maximum possible but further regulating will put the dams in danger.

Meanwhile, state Irrigation Minister Soumen Mahapatra wrote to the DVC authorities requesting them not to release water for the next three days.

The districts of Hooghly, Howrah and Paschim Medinipur are the worst affected.

Since Wednesday morning, rising water levels in Birbhum's Labhpur and Nanoor blocks forced thousands of people to flee their homes as houses and agricultural land got submerged in water.

More than 4 lakh hectares of agricultural land in these seven districts is under water now.

''Six people each have died due to wall collapse and lightning and seven due to drowning. Two each have died because of landslide and electrocution so far,'' a senior state government official said.

The chief minister, who was scheduled to conduct an aerial survey of the flood-hit areas in Howrah and Hooghly districts, was forced to suspend the programme due to bad weather conditions. Instead, she took the road to Amta in Howrah.

Standing in knee-deep water, Banerjee spoke to the affected people in Amta and assured them of all help by the state government.

On Banerjee's allegations against the DVC, the state BJP leadership claimed that the state government is looking for a face-saver to hide its failure.

''The entire irrigation system in West Bengal has gone for a toss during the TMC rule. The day is not far when the TMC government might demand that the DVC's dams be dismantled,'' state BJP spokesperson Shamik Bhattacharya said.

The already grim flood situation in south Bengal is likely to worsen, with the Met department forecasting heavy rain in the region owing to a cyclonic circulation over the North Bay of Bengal and the presence of an active monsoon trough.

The Met department warned of heavy to very heavy rain at one or two places in the flood-hit districts till Thursday morning.

The weatherman also cautioned against a rise in the water level of rivers and the inundation of low-lying areas in Gangetic West Bengal.

(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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