AT LEAST 16 people have died and more than 20 lakh people affected in around 165 villages in the state following heavy rain caused by a cyclonic circulation over West Bengal and Jharkhand, and the release of water by Damodar Valley Corporation (DVC), a senior official said on Thursday.
“About 165 villages in 104 blocks across 12 districts have been affected by the flood… As per reports, 16 people have died and over 20 lakh affected. Out of the 16, while six had drowned, four died after walls collapsed on them. Two died of snake bites,” said the official, adding that around 2,02,957 hectares of agricultural land have been submerged.
Out of the 20 lakh, over four lakh people were affected in the last 24 hours alone, while 2,301 people have been evacuated from their houses. Around 7,868 houses were entirely destroyed while 44,361 were partially damaged, sources said.
Chief Minster Mamata Banerjee on Thursday described the situation as “manmade flood”, and asked the Centre to undertake dredging work at DVC.
State Disaster Management Minister Javed Khan said 162 relief camps have been set up across the flood-affected districts. “Food and other relief materials like tarpaulin sheets are being sent to the camps,” he added. NDRF team has been deployed at Raina II block in East Burdwan, said an official.
On Thursday, Mamata, along with Urban Development Minister Firhad Hakim, Chief Secretary Malay Dey, Home Secretary Atri Bhattacharya and principal secretary (disaster management) took stock of the situation in inundated areas of Amta and Udaynaryanpur blocks in Howrah district and Khanakul block of Hooghly.
Holding the DVC responsible for the “manmade flood”, Mamata said: “It has rained a lot this year. But this has not happened due to incessant rain. This has happened due to other reasons. This is a manmade flood. The (DVC) is releasing water without informing the state. The water released takes around three days to reach this place, so, we are asking the people to be alert.”
The chief minister once again asked the Centre to undertake dredging work at DVC to prevent such a situation in the future. “The Centre must ensure that dredging work is undertaken at DVC. Another two lakh cusecs of water could have been stored if dredging work was done before. I have also spoken to the Union power minister to look into the issue. Unless DVC is reformed, the problem will remain,” she said.
Mamata said her government will continue to monitor the situation till the second week of October.
“This situation will go on till September. We will monitor the situation till second week of October, as it rains in the state till then,” she added.
Howrah District Magistrate Chaitali Chakraborty told PTI that one person died in the flood on Thursday, and 1.5 lakh people were affected by inundation in the district.
Meanwhile, flood situation in some districts improved after the rain stopped, and DVC released less water.
“The water discharge is decreasing, and it is expected that the trend will continue. Parts of Jamalpur and Raina II block have been affected due to heavy water discharge from Damodar. All efforts are being made to rescue and provide adequate relief to the people. Certain areas have become inundated as rain water drainage has been slow due to overflowing rivers. A breach in an embankment at Jamalpur block was seen yesterday, and urgent measures are being undertaken to repair it,” said Burdwan District Magistrate Anurag Srivastav.
The Met office has forecast heavy rain over south Bengal, including Kolkata, over the next 24 hours.