Army personnel repair the embankment breach in Panskura. Picture Jahangir Badsa
Tamluk, Oct. 17: The army today began repairing the breached embankment of the Kangshabati river that have caused floods in East Midnapore’s Panskura and Tamluk.
Senior district officials said this was the first time in recent memory that the army had been called in to repair a river embankment in East Midnapore.
According to government figures, nine persons have died so far in the floods in East and West Midnapore, Howrah, Hooghly and Bankura.
“One of the main reasons why the army was called was to prevent floodwater from entering the Kolaghat thermal power plant and its neighbouring areas,” a district official said.
During another flood in Panskura and Tamluk in end-August, the East Midnapore administration had blocked 10 culverts to stop floodwater from flowing towards the power plant. The Kolaghat Thermal Power Project (KTPP) supplies electricity to the pool from where the state-run WBSEDCL and the CESC draw power.
“The embankment is over 50 years old and is maintained by the irrigation department. In end-August, the Kangshabati swelled following heavy rain and caused a 30-metre breach,” a district official said.
“The latest floods have caused a 50-metre breach in the embankment in Panskura’s Panihati. The irrigation department had repaired the breach in September but obviously, the work was not done properly. So it appears the state government did not want to take any risk this time and called in the army,” the official added.
Officials said that at a meeting in Kolaghat last evening after visiting some flood-affected areas, chief minister Mamata Banerjee said an inquiry would be conducted into why the embankment gave way within a month of repair.
“The chief minister instructed us to send those who have taken shelter on the moram road on the embankment to flood relief camps,” the official said.
Army engineers and around 100 jawans are repairing the embankment.
Asked how the embankment broke so soon after being repaired, the executive engineer of irrigation in Tamluk, Anirban Bhattacharya, declined comment.
District magistrate Antara Acharya said work to repair the embankment had begun on a “war footing”. “We expect the work to be completed by tomorrow,” she added.
Asked why the army was called in to repair the embankment instead of the irrigation department, the DM declined comment.
Vice-chairman of the Panskura municipality and Trinamul Congress leader Nanda Mishra said: “This time, the breach is big and there is the possibility of flood waters flowing towards the Kolaghat power plant. So we requested the government to have the embankment repaired by the army.”