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Floods leave thousands homeless in Bengal

Two people dead as chief minister accuses Jharkhand for the floods

Gulf News

Kolkata: Thousands of people have been rendered homeless in the two southern districts of West Bengal due to the heavy rains brought in by cyclone Phailin.

According to the state officials, “Over 200 villages in the region have been affected by the floods. The floods have claimed two lives in the state so far leaving 4,000 homeless,” said an official of the state irrigation department.

West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee has blamed neighbouring Jharkhand and the Damodar Valley Corporation for the floods. She alleges the floods were “man-made” caused by the release of water from the Damodar River.

“The floods are man-made as thousands of gallons of water were released by the Jharkhand government without prior consultation with our government. Poor people have to suffer unnecessary due to the negligence of the few,” Banerjee told Gulf News over phone, as she toured the flood ravaged districts.

“The state government is trying its best, but crops worth millions have been wasted due to this. There is no coordination between states, and the Central government is doing nothing,” added Banerjee who has written a letter to prime minister Manmohan Singh asking for his intervention in organising better coordination between state governments.

However, Jharkhand government has denied the allegation that it had released water without Bengal’s knowledge. “We had informed the secretary of West Bengal Water Resources Department on the release of water,” Jharkhand Water Resources Department’s Principal Secretary Avinash Kumar said. “Every time water is being released only after consultations. This time everybody knew that there was possibility of heavy rains due to cyclone,” he said.

While Damodar Valley Corporation (DVC) also said it had informed collectors of six Bengal District Magistrates on October 11 following the cyclone.

According to DVC’s Public Relations Officer Vijay Kumar, “the collectors of six districts in West Bengal were informed on October 11 before it began discharging water from October 13. Panchet Dam, which was flowing at 130.66 metres against the danger mark of 125.54 metres yesterday, was flowing 0.3 metres above the mark on Wednesday. The water level at Maithon dam continued at the same level recorded on Tuesday at 150.78 metres against the danger mark of 150.876 metres,” Kumar added.