July 25, 2018
Kalyan Banerjee speaks during a discussion on flood and drought situation in the country
Hon’ble Chairman Sir, I thank you for giving me the chance to speak on this subject. Sir, India accounts for one-fifth of global deaths due to floods. According to government data, perspective to a new World Bank study, says climate change will lower the standards of living of nearly half of India’s population by 2050.
As many as 1,07, 487 people died due to heavy rains and floods across India over 64 years between 1953 and 2000, according to the Central Water Commission’s data, presented to the Rajya Sabha. Floods have cost considerable damages across India in this season. 91 districts in the Indian States have been affected since the beginning of this monsoon season.
Sir, many states have been affected – Assam, Kerala, Maharashtra – all figures are there. We have sympathy for all these states where people have been affected and all co-operation should be made by the Central government to all the states.
In West Bengal, 19 districts have been affected, 72 people lost their lives, 5 people have injured, 6910 houses have damaged, 12 animals affected, 47679 areas have been affected.
So far Maharashtra is concerned, 23 people have died. In Karnataka, 128 people have died.
Sir, I want to point out that the State of West Bengal being lowermost riparian States, received most of the stormwater generated in the catchments and transboundary rivers like Damodar, Kangsabati, Subarnarekha, Mayurakshi etc in the southern part, and Ganga, Padma, Mahananda, Atrai, Tanga, Teesta, Torsa, Jaldhaka, Sankosh in the northern part.
Apart from the passing of heavy flood discharge, a huge amount of silt also is carried by the sluice gates, which gets deposited in the riverbeds leading to a decrease of water carrying capacity in the rivers and drainage channel. The accounts for perpetual river erosion and inundation in almost 43 per cent of the state. The flood situation is aggravated when the release from the dams of neighbouring state – Jharkhand – is coupled with the unfavourable outfall condition due to the high tidal condition.
Sir, because of the releasing of the water by the Damodar Valley Corporation from Durgapur dam, three districts – Hooghly, Howrah, Purba Medinipur districts – are affected every year. DVC acts in a high-handed manner; they take the decision to release the water and people of Bengal are affected. Every time a control room is opened by the State Government and this year the hon Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has taken the charge. She is looking after everything, she is sitting in the control room and looking after, thereby extending the help to all the affected people.
The State faced an unprecedented flood during the monsoon of 2017 in different spells. The southern part was seriously affected during the heavy downpour till July 28, 2018, coupled with a maximum release of 2.50 lakh cubic of release from DVC dams. The seven districts of northern part of the States was also affected due to heavy river discharge coming from Sikkim, Bhutan, Bangladesh and Bihar. Around 87.23 lakh people were affected. The estimated cost of damage was to the tune of Rs 18,193 crore. The Central Government only granted an assistance of Rs 838.95 crore under National Disaster Relief Fund which is barely 4.6% of the estimated cost of flood damages.
In order to have an understanding about the position of West Bengal in getting assistance under NDRF vis-a-vis Gujarat, it is stated, as per media reports, during the end of July, 2017, Rs. 3.50 lakh people were affected in Gujarat during 15 – 26 July of 2017 which prompted the hon Prime Minister to make a quick aerial visit and to announce ex-gratia as well as interim grant of Rs 500 crore. Subsequently the high level committee headed by the hon Finance Minister granted Rs 1055.06 crore for Gujarat and Rs 1711.66 crore for Bihar and even Rs 836.09 crore for Madhya Pradesh under NDRF, whereas the share of West Bengal only was restricted to Rs 838.85 crore.
Construction of new embankments, resuscitation of drainage channel and rivers, rehabilitation of dams and barrages etc are not possible within the States’ own resources only. The State Government has formulated and is implementing three comprehensive flood management projects with assistance under MFP. Pursuant to the accordance of techno-economic tales of the fast pace, work of Ghatal master plan at an estimated cost of Rs 1414.92 crore by the Advisory Committee MOWR, RD and GOI on May 25, 2015, specific proposal for obtaining investment clearance was submitted. The hon Chief Minister also wrote several letters on the issue. But the issue of accordance of investment clearance is still pending with MOWR, RD and the Government of India.
The hon CM of West Bengal also wrote to the hon Prime Minister on June 19, 2015 and also to the hon Minister of Road transport and Highways and CP on September 22, 2017 for accordance of investment clearance and inclusion under FMP to avails on to Government. The revised estimated cost of the project is now Rs 1238.95 crore and also have been approved by the Advisory Committee of what the resources require. But the money has not yet reached West Bengal, at all. Sir, fund release proposal on two ongoing projects and FMP – namely Kalighai scheme submitted on August 31, 2017 (Rs 80 crore), but it has not yet been released.
Sir, the Ministry of Water Resources, Government of India with a letter dated January 19, 2005 agreed to take up anti-erosion work on the banks of the Ganga for a total stretch of 120 km. Farakka Barrage Project Authority did not address the erosion problem in their defined jurisdiction. The State Government raised the urgency for taking up such work on several occasions through Farakka Barrage Project Authority. The hon Minister in charge of Irrigation & Waterways Department highlighted this on letter dated February 3, 2015. The hon CM of our State wrote to the hon PM on August 10, 2017 to take up immediate restoration of eroded vulnerable zones, of length 28.80 km, consequent to the decision of MOWR, RD and GOI to receive to its original jurisdiction communicated dated July 11, 2017.
Preliminary project reports were prepared. Sir, this report speaks of identified 28.80 km at an estimated cost of Rs 1000 crore in the district of Malda, Murshidabad and Nadia, to take up anti-erosion work on those vulnerable stretches on the bank of the River Ganga. These stretches are thickly populated. Considering that almost 2800 hectares of fertile land has been engraved by the river, and damages to the public and private properties are to the tune of Rs 1000 crore during the last 12 years, the Central Government should provide adequate fund immediately to this extent.
Sir, erosion of the banks of the river Bhagirathi, due to movement of coal carrying burges, is also there. We are repeatedly writing letters. I think the hon MoS of Home Affairs is aware about these facts. But, no response has yet come. Last letter was written on March 29, 2017; no response has come. Nineteen anti-erosion works were taken up by the department in 2013-14 at international border with Bangladesh to protect the border outpost of BSF and adjacent roads. Pursuant to this decision taken at the technical level meeting between India and Bangladesh, schemes were pressed and out of Rs 96.56 crore under RMBA course, only Rs 25.465 crore has been released by the Central Government. Now, the State Government submitted proposals for release of balance funds – Rs 71.2135 crore in 2016-17 – but nothing has come.
Sir, what I want to say today is that we are sympathetic to all the States, which have been affected, I have given the figures. Our State, West Bengal is also seriously affected. But why are you treating us as step-brother? When there are floods in Gujarat flood, you rise to the occasion. When it is Bihar, where you are bound with JD(U), then you are rising to the occasion. In Maharashtra you are rising to the occasion. Wherever the BJP is in power, you are rising to the occasion. But as far as West Bengal is concerned, why are you one eyed? Why are you not releasing funds? After all, everyone is a citizen of the country.
Your PM, your leaders have stated that they are expecting 26 seats in Bengal in 2019. When the PM addressed a meeting in Medinipur, pandal collapsed, and 20 seats were filled in Medinipur hospital itself.
Therefore, through you Sir, I want to say that this is a national calamity. This is a national problem. Our nation has to be addressed and you should take care, irrespective of which State is affected, and release the funds which are due, and which you promised in the meetings. It should be done immediately.