Kolkata, July 25 (IANS) The West Bengal Irrigation Department on Tuesday protested the Damodar Valley Corporation’s decision to release water from Panchet Dam, which it claimed has further worsened the inundation in the state’s low lying areas.
It also criticised Jharkhand for “recklessly” releasing water without bothering about the already waterlogged districts of West Bengal.
“The DVC was created to protect Bengal from flood-like situations but now they are becoming a new headache for the state government. In spite of our repeated requests not to release water beyond 10,000 cusecs for at least the next two days, they have released close to 73 thousand cusec water in the afternoon. This is extremely objectionable,” state Irrigation Minister Rajib Banerjee alleged.
“We have written to the DVC authority, strongly protesting against their activity that is further compounding our problems. The Chief Minister herself is monitoring the situation from Delhi,” he said.
The Minister said that DVC’s capacity has decreased as they were not maintained properly and claimed that the water was released even as the Panchet Dam under DVC could contain more water.
“The water level at the Panchet Dam was 417 feet when the water was released. However, it can contain water up to another eight feet. More water can be contained in the reservoir by removing the encroachments there. Why isn’t any of that being tried so far?” he said.
Banerjee also slammed Jharkhand for releasing water, saying the capacity of its dams has decreased over the years for lack of maintenance. “Now they are constantly releasing water to save themselves but that is flooding the low-lying lands of Bengal.”
The Minister said that a letter has been written to Jharkhand and the Central Water Commission in Delhi, stating that “we cannot accept any more water”.
The districts of Birbhum, Nadia and Midnapore are on the lower catchment areas, and “as such lot of water from higher catchment areas passes through these districts every monsoon”. The situation this year is critical, he added.
Heavy downpour since Friday has battered the eastern metropolis and some Bengal districts, inundating large swathes of land in the state. A high tide in the Hooghly river due to the effect of the New Moon has compounded the problem.
Over 15,000 people in West Midnapore, Hooghly, Bankura, Burdwan and East Burdwan districts have been displaced due to inundation. Many have taken shelter at relief camps.
The Ghatal-Chandrakona state highway in West Midnapore district has gone under water along with more than 20 villages in Chandrakona and large parts of Ghatal.
In Kolkata, several places, including Behala, Armhurst street and large sections of Howrah, were still waterlogged and causing major traffic disruptions.