The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Silt strife on canal banks

While contractors and the state government trade charges, residents along either side of Beleghata canal continue to suffer because of the accumulation of excavated soil. Irrigation and waterways (I&W) department officials conceded that traffic could not move at all in some pockets between Narkeldanga and Maniktala because of the excavated soil. The condition turned worse on Thursday, after the previous evening’s Nor’wester. Residents held a demonstration on Thursday, demanding immediate removal of the dumped soil.

“The stress is now on total removal of the soil dumped on Canal West and Canal East roads,” said B.K. Chowdhury, secretary, I&W department. “The agreement with the 26 contractors cleaning the canal is to dispose of the soil beyond 240 metres of the waterway,” Chowdhury added.

His department claimed: “There is a disparity between excavation and disposal. Although 50 per cent of the excavation is complete, only 20 per cent of the soil has been removed.”

However, the contractors alleged that the problem had cropped up because of a lack of proper planning by the state government. “It has not identified any spot for the soil to be disposed of,” said Tapas Bhattacharya, general secretary of the Paschim Banga Thikadar Samity, the contractors’ forum of the I&W department. “The guideline suggests that the soil be disposed of beyond 240 metres, but wherever we try to remove the soil, we face resistance. What can we do'” asked Bhattacharya.

I&W officials claimed several spots had been identified at Topsia, Salt Lake, along the Bypass and other spots. Work on renovating the 4.2-km stretch of the canal from Orange Sura to Gaznavi Bridge is scheduled to be completed by April, they said.

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