Sabujdwip set to be Bengal’s latest eco-tourism hotspot

Bankura’s Sabujdwip, one of the popular tourist spots at Raipur block is turning to be an eco-tourism hotspot. The river Kanshabati has bifurcated in a place here and reunites again after going some distance. The island in between two bi-furcated streams is known as Sabujdwip.

With ‘sal’ forest on one side and the gushing Kanshabati river on the other, the place is not very far away from Kolkata. The eco-tourism there has gathered huge popularity among those who visit Bankura. The area, surrounded by ‘sal forest’ on one side and a stream of Kanshabati on the other, is also near to Mukutmanipur and Jhilimili — two famous tourist destinations. Susunia hills are also close to the area.

The state government has framed an adventure tourism policy in some areas of Bankura and Purulia. The state Tourism department began to work on a draft plan following the instruction from the CMO. Bengal Chief Minister had announced to promote tourism in these sectors during her district visit to Bankura. She had particularly mentioned the areas around Susunia hills to be promoted.


বাঁকুড়ার সবুজদ্বীপে ইকো ট্যুরিজমের বিকাশের উদ্যোগ রাজ্যের

বাঁকুড়ার মানচিত্রে জুড়ল নতুন পর্যটন কেন্দ্র – সবুজদ্বীপ। বাঁকুড়ার রায়পুর ব্লকের সবুজদ্বীপ অন্যতম একটি জনপ্রিয় জায়গা। এটিকে ইকো ট্যুরিজম হটস্পট করার পরিকল্পনা নিচ্ছে রাজ্য পর্যটন দপ্তর। শাল জঙ্গলে ঘেরা কংসাবতী নদীর কোলে গড়ে উঠেছে এই পর্যটন কেন্দ্র। কংসাবতী দু’ভাগে বিভক্ত হয়ে গিয়ে আবার একটু দূরেই মিশে গেছে। এই দ্বীপের অংশটুকুর নামই সবুজদ্বীপ।

এক পাশে রয়েছে শাল বন এবং অন্যদিকে কংসাবতি নদী – জায়গাটি কলকাতা থেকে খুব দূরে নয়। এই ইকো-ট্যুরিজম সেখানে প্রচুর জনপ্রিয়তা পেয়েছে। এলাকাটির, এক পাশে শাল বন এবং অন্যদিকে কংসাবতি নদীর একটি প্রবাহ রয়েছে, যা মুকুটমানপুর ও ঝিলিমিলি – এই দুটি বিখ্যাত পর্যটন স্থলের কাছেই। শুশুনিয়ার পাহাড় এই এলাকার বেশ কাছাকাছি অবস্থিত।

বাঁকুড়া ও পুরুলিয়ার বেশ কিছু জায়গায় পর্যটনে জোর দিচ্ছে রাজ্য সরকার। মুখ্যমন্ত্রীর অনুপ্রেরণায় রাজ্য পর্যটন বিভাগ একটি খসড়া পরিকল্পনার কাজও শুরু করেছে। বাঁকুড়া জেলা সফরে এসেই এই অঞ্চলে পর্যটনকে আরও উন্নীত করার কোথা ঘোষণা করেছিলেন মুখ্যমন্ত্রী। বিশেষভাবে শুশুনিয়ার পাহাড়ের কথাই উল্লেখ করেন তিনি।


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D Bandyopadhyay speaks during a discussion on construction of barrages on Mahanadi River affecting farmers

I have got three short questions. I don’t have a lengthy speech.

Question 1 (Centre-State and inter-State relations)

There is a 1983 water-sharing agreement between the States of Odisha and Madhya Pradesh dealing with the arrangement on Mahanadi River. Now, at the behest and the request of the Chhattisgarh Government, this inter-State agreement is being encroached upon and bypassed by the Centre. There is a breakdown of all the principles of federalism enshrined in the Constitution – this is not cooperative federalism, of which we hear all the time, it is definitely a ‘not operative’ federalism.

Were consultations held with all relevant stakeholders, including officials from both State Governments, before the Centre decided on the matter? What were the inputs given by the Chhattisgarh Government that merited a unilateral move on the part of the Central Government?

Question 2 (on inter-State agreement)

Whether the State of Chhattisgarh is in breach of the inter-State contract signed in 1983 between Odisha and the undivided Madhya Pradesh? Does the Mahanadi basin fall within the ambit of this contract? What steps will be taken by the Centre to ensure that the spirit of federalism will be maintained between the two States in resolving this issue?

Question 3 (on CWC clearance and environmental assessment)

What is the nature of the project and whether Central Water Commission’s (CWC) clearance was obtained for the project? Has the Centre conducted any study to assess the environmental impact of constructing new barrage projects on the river Mahanadi and if so, are these studies available in the public domain?


Irrigation system in Bengal – A model for all

In the renovation of the irrigation system, rivers and canals, and the flood control system, the Trinamool Government’s success has laid bare the glaring lack of worthwhile work in these areas by the previous Left Front Government.

Increased spending

In the four years of Trinamool Government in West Bengal, there has been a spend of Rs 2958,73,60,000. Therefore per year, on an average, the spending has been Rs 739,68,40,000. The actuals per year are Rs 396,48,93,000 in 2011-12, Rs 587,33,99,000 in 2012-13, Rs 683,94,87,000 in 2013-14 and Rs 1290,95,81,000 in 2014-15. Therefore, it can be seen that the spending has been increasing year by year, with the increase from 2013-14 to 2014-15 being by a massive 88.75%.

Compare this to the spending on the same account during the last four years of the Left Front Government – Rs 1095,54,90,000, which is less than that of the Trinamool Government’s spending in 2014-15. These numbers prove how much importance the current Government is giving to the agricultural sector, which forms the economic backbone of the State.

  1. The fiscal distinction between the first four years of the Trinamool Government and the last four years of the Left Front can be summarised in these three points:
  2.  The year-by-year increase in the spend in the case of the Trinamool Government has been 3 times, on an average, that of the Left Front.
  3. In the case of the Left Front, the spend was Rs 274 crore on an average, while in the present case, it is Rs 740 crore.

The Left Front Government, instead of increasing, decreased the spend on irrigation and water transport in its last two years. As a result, if one compares the spend during the last year of the Left Front to the projected spend by the Trinamool Government during 2015-16, one would find an increase of almost 10 times (from Rs 211 crore to Rs 2041 crore).


Water Investigation and Development Department

The spend per year during the four years of the Trinamool Government has been more than twice that during the last four years of the Left Front Government, on an average.


Efficiency in the usage of the irrigation system

During the first three years of the Trinamool Government, an additional 1,07,000 hectares of land has come under the irrigation system. Besides, in North Bengal, water from the Teesta barrage system has been used to irrigate an additional 1,10,000 acres in the Rabi/Boro season.

In drought-prone Purulia district, 14 check dams have been constructed to hold water for irrigation purposes. Twenty-three more have been planned to be constructed by March 2016.


Renovation of river dams

The Trinamool Government, during the first three years, more than 1000 km length of river dams has been renovated. Significant among these river dams are those on the rivers Keleghai, Kapaleshwari and Chandia, and on the Hijli Tidal Channel in West and East Medinipur, on the Damodar Shortcut Channel in Howrah district, on the Upper and Lower Bagjola Canals in North and South 24-Parganas and Kolkata, on the Ichhamati River, and on the Beleghata Canal.

Additionally, in the areas in the Sundarbans affected by Cyclone Aila a few years back, some 600 km of embankment have been either built or repaired to prevent flooding.


Irrigation and flood control

West Bengal Accelerated Development of Minor Irrigation Project (WBADMIP), under the aegis of the World Bank, has spent Rs 1380 crore to make an additional 1.39 lakh hectare irrigable.

In the districts of Purulia, Birbhum, Bankura and West Medinipur, under the Jal Tirtha Scheme, an additional 14,000 hectares have been made irrigable during 2014-15 and during 2015-15, plans are for an additional 15,000 hectares to be made crop-worthy through micro-irrigation techniques.


Jal Dharo Jal Bharo

Under this flagship scheme of the Mamata Banerjee Government, till December 2014, 817 ponds and 7,319 water reservoirs have been dug in West Bengal. During 2015-16, plans are on for another 3,000 similar projects. Significantly, the fact that the West Bengal Government could use the 100-day NREGA scheme to service the building of ponds and reservoirs on such a large scale, is a milestone in India.

All in all, the improvements in irrigation-related aspects during the last four years by the Trinamool Congress Government has been unprecedented.