West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Wednesday complained to Prime Minister Narendra Modi that the Damodar Valley Corporation (DVC) allegedly released water from its dams in an unplanned manner, thus causing a 'man-made' flood situation in the state, a senior state government official said.
The prime minister telephoned Banerjee to take stock of the flood situation in West Bengal, and assured the chief minister of all central assistance to mitigate it, the bureaucrat said.
"During the conversation, PM Modi enquired whether it has been raining heavily in West Bengal. The CM told him that the situation has been man-made and the DVC is responsible for it. She also told the PM that the DVC had released water in an unplanned manner worsening the situation in the state," the official told PTI.
The DVC has released 5.43 lakh cusecs of water from July 31 till Tuesday evening, an official of the corporation said.
The chief minister, who was visiting flood-hit Udaynarayanpur in Howrah district, was learned to have told the prime minister that her administration will send a report to the PMO on the flood situation and damages caused by the deluge after completing the survey, the official said.
Later, a tweet issued by the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) said that Modi assured Banerjee of all possible support from the Centre to help mitigate the situation.
'PM @narendramodi spoke to WB CM @MamataOfficial on the flood situation caused by water discharge from dams in parts of the state. PM assured all possible support from the Centre to help mitigate the situation. PM Modi prays for the safety and wellbeing of those in affected areas,' the PMO tweeted.
At least 15 people have died, and three lakh were displaced after heavy rain in the last few days and subsequent discharge of water from DVC dams inundated large parts of Purba and Paschim Bardhaman, Paschim Medinipur, Hooghly, Howrah and South 24 Parganas districts.
Banerjee, who was scheduled to conduct an aerial survey of the flood-hit areas in Howrah and Hooghly districts, was forced to suspend the programme due to bad weather conditions, the official said.
Instead, she took the road to Amta in Howrah and may consider visiting Khanakul in Hooghly if there is an improvement in the weather condition, he said.
Standing in knee-deep water, Banerjee spoke to the affected people in Amta and assured them of all help by the state government.
"You will receive all help from the state government. Our ministers are on the ground looking after relief and rescue operations. I will personally visit all the affected areas soon.
"I have told the PM today that the DVC is responsible for the floods in Bengal. The DVC is not conducting dredging of its dams which is causing an overflow following the release of water, leading to floods.
"The DVC should stop such arbitrary release of water," Banerjee said while addressing the affected people.
The state Bharatiya Janata Party leadership termed Banerjee's allegations 'laughable', and said that the state government was looking for a face-saver to hide its failure.
"The entire irrigation system in West Bengal has gone for a toss during the TMC rule. Now, they are making such laughable statements to hide their own failures.
"The day is not far when the TMC government might demand that the DVC's dams be dismantled," state BJP spokesperson Shamik Bhattacharya said.
The DVC had earlier said that the storage facilities at Panchet and Maithon dams have reached their capacities due to heavy inflow of water from upstream Jharkhand, and discharge under such circumstances was 'unavoidable'.
A DVC official said that water discharge is regulated by Damodar Valley Reservoir Regulation Committee, which has a representative from the state government.