The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Floods threat at Salt Lake

With the water level of Keshtopur canal rising because it has not been dredged, Salt Lake may get flooded this monsoon. Officials and engineers are worried as the manholes in different parts of the township, supposed to be dry during summer, are already brimful.

“There is a chance of water-logging in parts of Salt Lake as the water level of the Keshtopur canal has already risen alarmingly. Manholes, which should be dry at this time of the year, are full almost up to the neck,” said Ramesh Bar, chairman-in-council in charge of drainage and sewerage of Bidhannagar Municipality. Instead of water from Salt Lake flowing into the canal, there is a chance of the water flowing back into the township, he said.

Bidhannagar Municipality officials say the water may flow back because Keshtopur canal has not been dredged. Lock-gates between Bagjola and Keshtopur canals are not functioning as they are not properly maintained. Water from the Bagjola canal, consequently, enters Keshtopur canal, raising the water level.

Complicating matters further is the problem of water hyacinth, say officials. “This is seriously affecting the flow of water in Keshtopur canal,” one of them said.

Water from the township drains into Keshtopur canal and the Eastern Drainage Canal through seven outlets. Now, however, water in Keshtopur canal is flowing just a few inches below the drainage pipes and the footbridges built over the canal. “These are very clear warning signals,” a municipality official said.

Irrigation and inland waterways department minister Amalendra Roy said encroachment is a major impediment to dredging. “The encroachment problem along the banks of the Keshtopur canal has to be resolved first,” Roy said on Sunday. “Once the ongoing dredging of Beleghata Canal is completed, the programme will be taken up for Keshtopur canal,” the minister said.

The Opposition at Bidhannagar Municipality feels the civic authorities need to sit up. “This is drainage only in name. The conditions of the sewage and drainage pumping stations are very poor, due to lack of proper maintenance,” alleged Trinamul Congress councillor Sabyasachi Dutta. He said although the municipality was spending lakhs every year on drainage, yet there was no improvement in the situation.

Dutta demanded that the civic officials raise the issue at the high-power committee meeting, involving officials from the irrigation and waterways department, the urban development department, Calcutta Metropolitan Development Authority and the municipality. In 2000, most of the township went under water, forcing officials to pump out water to the other side of the Keshtopur canal.

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