Busy with the by-polls, the Mamata Banerjee administration paid no heed towards the flood-affected rural areas of the state which led to massive dissatisfaction among the people. The state chief has been shirking the responsibility for the disaster by calling it a man-made flood and accusing the Damodar Valley Corporation of the prevailing situation.
That the water from BJP-ruled Uttarakhand bypassed all the interlaying states in between like Uttar Pradesh and Bihar and swamped West Bengal causing heavy manmade floods was the explanation the state administration presented to its angry citizens. “While we were busy with by-polls on September 30, they (DVC) had released several lakh cusecs of water by midnight. Till October 1, the DVC had released almost 10 lakh cusecs of water,” alleged Mamata Banerjee.
Ex-DVC engineer Shankar Bandopadhya rubbishes all allegations made by Mamata Banerjee and affirmed that the state government is always kept informed before releasing water. Despite the clarification by the ex-engineer, during her recent visit to the flood-affected terrains of Arambagh, Mamata Banerjee did an aerial survey of the region and delivered a speech to hapless villagers waiting for some relief from the TMC matriarch. In her speech, Banerjee again rebuked the DVC for the irresponsible act and proclaimed that it had released water in the dead of the night without informing the state.
Taking cognizance of the unfounded and repeated allegations made by the senior politician against the DVC, the corporation, on Saturday, October 3, released a press statement denying Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s claims that the state offices were not kept updated about the release of water from Maithon and Panchet barrages, which, Banerjee insists, led to the prevailing flood situation in the state.
The press release published on major news dailies by the DVC reads:
“The water released from DVC dams for the moderation of flood is as per the advice of the ‘Damodar Valley Reservoir Regulation Committee (DVRRC)’, which is headed by Member (R&M), Central Water Commission, New Delhi. The DVRRC comprises members in the rank of Chief Engineer from the Govt. of West Bengal, Govt. of Jharkhand and DVC. DVC authorities only follow the water release advice and instructions of the DVRRC towards discharge of water through dams and have no role in the quantum of water released.
The release advice is as per the capacity of the dams to hold water up to a certain level. Before the release of water, flood warning messages are communicated well in advance to Chief Engineers of Govt. of West Bengal, District Magistrates of Purba Bardhaman, Paschim Bardhaman, Purulia, Bankura and Superintending Engineer and Executive Engineer, Durgapur, Govt. of West Bengal.
The Executive Engineer, Durgapur, Govt. of West Bengal further communicates the messages to the District Magistrate of Hooghly, Howrah, SDOs, ADMs, BDOs and others as per the Flood Warning Memorandum. This is as per the established system followed during flood events”.
Sources in the corporation have also confirmed that the Damodar Valley Reservoir Regulation Committee (DVRRC) has representatives from both the Jharkhand governments and West Bengal Governments. This committee collaboratively decides on discharging water into the states. The information is conveyed to all stakeholders through emails and WhatsApp groups messages at least six hours before the release of water.
“We inform the West Bengal government at least six hours before the discharge of water. Six hours upon intimation, we started releasing barrage water which reached places such as Udaynarayanpur and Khanakul at least 10 to 12 hours post the discharge. Right now, DVC is discharging 95,000 cusecs of water. In the last two days, we released just 34% of our capacity. Our barrage level is 495 feet beyond which we are bound to discharge water as otherwise, the barrage will be damaged. The water level currently is 493 feet, just two feet less than the highest level. Should there be more rainfall, we might have to release more water,” confirmed another senior official of the DVC.
Further, Debashish Dev, executive director (civil), in response to the CM’s repeated misleading assertions, clarified, “we always follow our protocol in intimating the states on releasing water from our barrages and dams and this time too, we did the same.”
Banerjee, who appears to have been preoccupied with election rallies and overlooked the plight of the commoners of her state, made desperate attempts to salvage her by blaming the DVC. However, from the multiple clarifications provided by the corporation, it becomes apparent that it was the state administration’s negligence that has led to the prevailing situation. Had the officials in charge acted promptly after receiving the information from the DVC, the misfortune of the poor villagers, who are now isolated in their submerged villages, could have been avoided.
(Feature image source: Indian Express.com)