AMID ALLEGATIONS by the state government of not cooperating and releasing excessive water, thereby causing flood-like situation in a few districts in the state, the Damodar Valley Corporation on Wednesday released 46,000 cusec of water from Maithan and Panchet dams and another 52,000 cusec water from Durgapur barrage. This resulted in inundation of hundreds of villages across different districts and rendering thousands homeless.
Continuing to blame the DVC for releasing water in spite of the state government’s objection, state Irrigation Minister Rajib Banerjee said: “We had asked them not to release water as it would flood many areas of Bengal but they were not ready to listen. In spite of our objections they have released water this morning as well.”
The DVC officials, however, refuted the allegations and said the release of water was not under its control. “The DVC has four dams (at Maithan, Panchet and Tilaiya and Konar) in Jharkhand in the Damodar Catchment Area. Although these dams are owned and maintained by DVC, it has no authority over the discharge of waters from these dams. Water from the reservoirs of these dams is only released on the specific direction of the Damodar Valley Reservoir Regulation Committee (DVRRC),” a release issued by the organisation said.
The DVRRC is chaired by the Member (River Management) of the Central Water Commission (CWC) and comprises representatives of the governments of West Bengal and Jharkhand, DVC and CWC, it said. “The decision to release/not to release water from the DVC reservoirs is taken by the DVRRC after considering weather forecasts issued by the Indian Meteorological Department for the Damodar Catchment Area, expected water inflow into the reservoirs and the designed holding capacity of the dams,” the release added.
The statement also said that to alleviate flood situations, DVC has decided to increase the maximum flood storage level from 495 feet to 500 feet at Maithan Dam and from 425 feet to 435 feet at Panchet Dam. For this, the company has agreed to pay compensation to inhabitants residing in the upstream areas of these dams due to the resultant inundation. A modified flood warning system for timely, better and faster dissemination of information to the general public has also been adopted, the release added.
Meanwhile, the state continued to reel under floods in West Midnapore, Hooghly, Howrah, Bankura, Burdwan and Nadia districts.
While water levels of Sali river in Bankura continued to flow above the danger mark, the road joining Borjora and Sonamukhi at Nafardanga was completely washed away and communication between the two areas had come to a halt.
In Hooghly district, several areas under Arambagh and Khanakul remained submerged following the overflowing of Dwarakeswar river. Flood-affected residents were given refuge at government schools.
Several parts of Malda have been kept under high alert after it was found that Ganga was flowing 23 cm above the danger mark. Around 135 houses were washed away due to erosion in Ganga and 20 villages submerged in flood waters on Wednesday.
A high-level state irrigation team is visiting the area and the team would submit its report to the district magistrate, said Malda Additional District Magistrate Kanchan Chowdhury.
Raina and Jamalpur blocks of Burdwan district have also been kept under high alert.
In West Midnapore, around 20 villages in Chandrakona drowned due to an overflowing Shilaboti river and around 200 houses were washed away in Ghatal, where at least 13 wards were submerged. Locals said that crops on at least 250 bighas of land have been damaged.
The district administration said officials of National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) have been pressed into rescue and relief operations. However, locals alleged that they are yet to get relief materials.
One of the worst-affected areas in the state is Udaynarayanpur in Howrah, where the BDO office, bus stands and hospitals have submerged in flood waters. The road joining Udaynarayanpur and Jangipara was also washed away severing communication in the area. According to the district administration, 20 relief camps have been opened there.