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Dam plan triggers fears of flash flood

Malda, Nov. 23: The new 10-km embankment being planned by the irrigation department to protect Panchanandapur from further erosion will isolate 15 villages whose residents will be left to the mercy of the raging Ganga next monsoon.

Talks of building a new embankment, the ninth one, to save the district from the onslaught of flood surfaced after the night of September 4 when the department’s showpiece bungalow, Ganga Bhavan, was eaten by the river from which it got its name.

The proposed wall to stop the rushing waters will be 300m wide and exceed 26m in height. It will cost the government Rs 15 crore. The embankment is likely to come up between Mohanpur-Ghaskhole in the Englishbazar police station area and Balukhara village in Panchanandapur.

But if the wall is constructed, more than 50,000 people will be left on the “wrong” side. Settlements like Panchanandapur, Bazarpara, Ghaskhole, Sakullapur and others will thus be left to the mercy of the floods.

Irrigation department sources said the embankment would be built about one-and-a-half km from the river. The plan was discussed at a meeting today between irrigation minister Amalendralal Roy, food processing minister Sailen Sarkar and top officials, including irrigation secretary Alokesh Dasgupta and district magistrate Ashok Bala.

This year, more than 184 hectares were destroyed by the flood. Anticipating resentment of the villagers likely to be affected by the embankment, the administration today said it would consider public opinon before finalising the project.

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