West Bengal flood toll rises to 28

Kolkata: Twelve more people died in the last 24 hours in flood-affected districts of West Bengal taking the toll to 28, a senior government official said today.

Around 23 lakh people have been hit in over 165 villages inundated by heavy rains and the water released by Damodar Valley Corporation (DVC), the official said, adding the weather conditions showed signs of improving.

“Some of them died due to snake bites, lightning, drowning and a few after walls fell on them,” the official told reporters at the state secretariat.

Out of the 104 blocks in 11 flood-affected districts of the state, 13 have been hit badly, he said.

The state government has opened around 2,067 relief camps in the affected districts wherein around 44,542 people have been provided shelter, the official said.

“Besides distributing dry food, water pouches and tarpaulin, we are also keeping an eye on the districts so that there is no epidemic in the flood-affected areas. We have kept enough medicines there,” he said.

Talking about crop losses, a senior official at the department said, “The estimation can only be done after water recedes. It also depends on the number of days the crops or saplings are submerged. But it seems that it could be a huge amount.”

The official said the state government will definitely look into the losses of the farmers and chalk out a plan to compensate them.

Meanwhile, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee described the current flood in West Bengal as worse than the one which hit the state in 1978.

“This year’s flood condition is worse than that in 1978.

There are so many places where there is so much water … It’s so deep at some places,” Banerjee said.

The state did not have so many dams in 1978, she said.

Referring to the project that Bengal has taken up along with the World Bank that will reform the lower basin of the Damodar river, Banerjee said the state government was trying to come up with more dams to address the flood problem.

Blaming the DVC for releasing water during the monsoon leading to the “man-made” flood in West Bengal, she said, “Every year they release water and we have to face the problem. And because West Bengal is shaped like a boat it creates flood here.”

Asked whether she would write to the Centre regarding the DVC problem, the chief minister said, “I have been writing to them for so many years, but the problem has not been addressed.”

Referring to the IAF helicopter deployed to rescue a family from a house in West Midnapore district’s Ghatal, Banerjee said, “Because the area has so many trees they (the IAF helicopter) could not rescue them today. They will resume the rescue operation tomorrow morning. A NDRF team is already there.”

An Indian Air Force Mi17 V5 helicopter was sent from the Barrackpore air force station to rescue a family stuck at a house in Ghatal, a Defence spokesperson said.

Several areas in West Midnapore, Howrah, Bankura and West Burdwan districts of the state have been flooded due to incessant rains and the release of water by the DVC from its barrages owing to heavy precipitation in upper catchment areas in Jharkhand.