The ongoing West Bengal floods has claimed 152 lives and caused losses to the tune of Rs 14,000 crore in 11 districts of the state, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said after visiting three northern districts where large areas continued to be submerged.
“The floods have caused losses totaling almost Rs 14,000 crore in 11 districts of the state. So far, there are reports of 152 deaths due to various causes like drowning, snake bites etc in the state in the ongoing floods. 1.5 crore people have been affected,” she said.
Hitting out at the Centre, she said it should see to it that dredging of barrages is done properly.
“The floods have taken place due to the release of water by the DVC (Damodar Valley Corporation) and Farakka Barrage. The state of the reservoirs and river beds has become such that people are getting hit more by the release of water rather than by rains,” she alleged.
“Bengal has become like a boat. Neither the Farakka Barrage nor the reservoirs under the DVC are dredged.”
Banerjee said 45 lakh people have been affected in the three north Bengal districts – Malda, North Dinajpur and South Dinajpur – she toured during the day.
She said about four lakh tents have been distributed and more are being provisioned for distribution.
“There is enough aid material. We are not stingy about distributing them. Many speed boats are also operating in the flooded areas for distributing relief,” she said.
The Chief Minister went to various inundated areas, heard grievances of the affected people and instructed the administration to be prompt in relief, rehabilitation and reconstruction work.
The Trinamool Congress supremo also batted for central aid for all flood-hit states.
“The central government has provided aid packages worth Rs 2,000 crore each to Gujarat and Assam. All states must get central aid. Bengal has been less affected by floods than Gujarat and Assam. We would send a detailed report and expect the help which is needed.
“I have also written to the Prime Minister Narendra Modi a few times regarding the erosion of the Ganga’s banks but no actions have been taken,” she alleged.
In Malda, she held a meeting with the District Magistrates, Superintendents of Police and senior officials of the three districts. Municipal Affairs Minister Firhad Hakim, state Chief Secretary, Home Secretary and Relief Department officials were present.
Banerjee directed the officials to ensure there was enough stock of medicines to tackle any outbreak of diseases once the water level came down.
The flood situation in northern West Bengal showed an overall improvement, barring Malda district where nearly five blocks were still inundated by the increasing water level of the Mahananda river.
“This situation is due to the water level of the river,” she told locals.
Floods have wrecked havoc in Cooch Behar, South Dinajpur, North Dinajpur, Jalpaiguri, Alipurduar and Malda districts of north Bengal.
According to the State Irrigation Department, heavy downpour in Nepal and Bihar is further worsening the situation as the waters released by them is entering Mahananda.
They said the Mahananda was flowing 1.5 metres above the extreme danger level in the English Bazar area while some other rivers in the area have also breached the danger level.
The State Finance Department was collaborating with other departments, including its irrigation counterpart, to formulate a report on the overall flood situation and damages in the state, said state Irrigation Minister Rajib Banerjee.
“The report will be submitted to the Chief Secretary and Chief Minister in about a week,” he said.