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27 Jul 2017

10 dead, lakhs marooned in flooded Bengal - CM attack on DVC release

 A plane parked on the flooded runway of the Andal airport , Water being released from the
 Panchet dam near Asansol,on Wednesday. Pic: Santosh Kumar Mandal and Arup Sarkar
TT, July 26: At least 10 people have died and more than 15 lakh have been marooned across several south Bengal districts that have been flooded because of heavy rain and water released by the Damodar Valley Corporation.
According to a preliminary report prepared by the disaster management department, the worst-affected districts are Bankura, West Midnapore, Burdwan West, Jhargram, Birbhum and Hooghly. The report also apprehends that more areas of Howrah, Hooghly, Burdwan East and Bankura could be flooded, citing a DVC version that it is not in a position to stop the discharge of water as the dams can burst otherwise.
Sources said the report would be tabled before the chief minister tomorrow.
"So far, we have set up 50 relief camps in five districts, including West Midnapore, Bankura, Hooghly and Burdwan West. As 15 lakh people have already been affected, it is expected that more relief camps would start functioning over the next few days," said a senior state government official.
"The water discharged from DVC barrages inundated parts of Hooghly, Howrah and Burdwan East and West," the official added.
In Delhi, Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee today accused the DVC of making the flood situation worse in Bengal, saying the central utility had lost the capacity to hold water in its dams because of siltation.
Demanding de-siltation in the DVC barrages, the chief minister said: "Since 2012, we have been raising this issue with the DVC, but to no avail. Even today, they released an additional 1 lakh cusecs of water, causing floods in Howrah, Hooghly and West Midnapore."
Sources in the Bengal government said the demand for de-siltation was not rational because of the huge cost involved.
"A well-planned watershed management is the only alternative. Until that happens, we have to accept the problem and try to minimise the flooding effect by making the lower Damodar free from activities that prevent the flow of the river," an official said.
So far, two deaths have been reported each from Hooghly, Burdwan West, Murshidabad and Calcutta. One death each was reported from Nadia and West Midnapore.
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"All the deaths were either because of the deluge or rain-linked incidents such as building collapse and electrocution," the official said.
Among the districts, Bankura is faced with the worst situation. The region witnessed a record rainfall of 82.8mm in the past 24 hours and the water released by the DVC flooded most of the blocks.
In Burdwan West, the administration shifted around 7,000 people to relief camps. In Asansol's Jamuria, a large tract of land surrounding an open-cast mine collapsed this morning and black smoke started billowing out, creating a panic.
The Kazi Nazrul Islam airport in Andal, though non-functional at the moment, has also been under water since yesterday.
In Birbhum, several places in the Labhpur block were flooded after heavy rain and the overflowing Kuye river.
The worst-affected block in Murshidabad was Burwan, where a school student was washed away while returning home from private tuitions.

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