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Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Surveys flood-hit areas: Bengal CM targets Centre for ‘not clearing Ghatal Master Plan’

Banerjee, who also conducted an aerial survey of flood-affected regions in south Bengal, said a delegation of TMC MPs would visit Delhi to urge the Centre to approve the Ghatal  Master Plan.

By: Express News Service | Kolkata |
August 11, 2021 6:23:09 am
Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee during a visit to a flood-affected area in Paschim Medinipur on Tuesday. (Photo: CMO)

CHIEF MINISTER Mamata Banerjee, who on Tuesday visited flood-hit Ghatal in Paschim Medinipur, blamed the Centre for “not helping to implement the Ghatal Master Plan”.

Banerjee, who also conducted an aerial survey of flood-affected regions in south Bengal, said a delegation of TMC MPs would visit Delhi to urge the Centre to approve the Ghatal  Master Plan.

The Bengal government has started some work on the initiative, with dredging being carried out in various rivers. But local residents say that with the Master Plan not being implemented, their problems persist.

Banerjee said on Tuesday, “The Centre is not clearing the Ghatal master plan. I will be asking MP Dev and leaders of Medinipur to go and meet the central irrigation minister on the matter. We are doing whatever we have to do.”

She said, “I was coming from Jhargram (on Tuesday) and conducted an aerial survey. Everything is inundated. I will prepare a report. Ghatal is a low-lying area. We have time and again raised the issue of the master plan but the Centre has not sanctioned any funds.”

The Chief Minister reiterated that “these were man-made floods” and unless the plan is implemented, the region is likely to face flooding regularly.

She said, “Despite raising these concerns multiple times, the Central government took no cognizance of the grave situation. The need of the hour is to solidify the master plan and act on it on an urgent basis.”.

Mamata on Tuesday also distributed relief material among affected persons and instructed the administration to ramp up counter-measures.

She said, “I am also sending two projects for the Sunderbans and Digha. Every alternate year, due to natural disasters these [Ghatal and adjoining] areas are affected. Then there are cyclones [such as Amphan, Yaas]. We are trying to do as much as we can, but a proper plan has to be made.”

In the 1950s, Left leader and MP Nikunja Behari Chowdhury had first raised in Parliament the flooding issue that Ghatal faces. A committee was formed that later proposed a Ghatal master plan. It was decided that the cost of Master Plan would be jointly borne by both the Centre and state government(s). A foundation stone-laying ceremony was done in 1983. The plan aimed at carrying out regular dredging and desiltation of the rivers in the region.

Earlier, it was decided that the Centre would bear the 75 per cent of the project cost and rest 25 per cent by the state government. This formula later changed to a 50-50 one.

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