Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi about the “perpetual river erosion” along the Ganga-Padma river in the state’s Malda and Nadia districts and urged the prime minister to urgently look into the matter so that “flood management and restoration schemes can be carried out” at the earliest to prevent the loss of lives and livelihood in case of disasters.
In the three-page letter, the chief minister pointed out the adverse affects of soil erosion along the river banks, including “severe loss of public utilities, private properties and agricultural lands.
“The problem is continuing for over the last two decades. Such erosion along the river bank has largely been caused by the siltation in the river bed and frequent shifting of river course consequent upon the construction of Farakka Barrage,” Banerjee said in her letter.
She also mentioned the adverse impact of the Ganga-Padma erosion on the Indo-Bangladesh Gang Treaty of 1996.
“The severity of the problem of erosion along this river system in West Bengal can be appreciated from the fact that almost 2,800 hectares of fertile land has been engulfed by the river and there has been damage to public and private properties to the tune of Rs 1,000 crore during last 15 years,” she wrote further.
Mamata Banerjee accused the Farakka Barrage Project Authority (FBPA), a subordinate office under the Jal Shakti Ministry, of not addressing the problem adequately which has “further aggravated the land loss due to river erosion over 400 square kilometre of 15 blocks of Malda, Murshidabad and Nadia districts in West Bengal”.
The chief minister also listed the urgent bank protection works at 21 vulnerable locations undertaken by her government in the state in the last four years at a cost of Rs 168.47 crore as “part of its commitment to protecting thousands of flood victims in Malda, Murshidabad and Nadia districts”.
“Again due to monsoon of 2021, further anti-erosion works along the river Ganga-Padma for a length of 9.9 km has recently been taken up at a cost of Rs 80.67 crore,” she said, adding, “This is not going to suffice. As per the latest assessment, 37 locations along the river Ganga-Padma for a length of 28.8 km are vulnerable and require immediate attention. The concomitant expenditure for the river bank protection would be to the tune of Rs 571 crore.”
Adding that it is becoming increasingly difficult for her government to arrange the funds required for the repair works, Mamata Banerjee has requested the prime minister to “reconsider the decision of withdrawal of the extended jurisdiction of FBPA, so as to fulfill the earlier commitment of the Central Government and arrange for taking up urgent bank protection schemes in the entire stretch of the extended jurisdiction by the FBPA in consultation with the state government”.