The Bengal government has alerted West Burdwan, Bankura, Birbhum, East Burdwan, West Midnapore, Hooghly and Howrah as the authorities apprehend a high possibility of floods in these seven districts ever since the Met department has predicted heavy rainfall in the upper catchment areas of the Damodar Valley Corporation (DVC), a central utility, in Jharkhand till October 5.
“In the past, floods had hit the state whenever the DVC released additional water from Durgapur Barrage. This time, there is a high possibility that the DVC would release additional water because of heavy rainfall in the upper catchment areas of Maithan dam,” said a senior official.
Currently, water inflow into Maithon Dam is 60,000 cusec and Panchet Dam 73,000 cusec.
At 9am on Monday, 1 lakh cusecs of water were released from both these dams, a source said. If 1.5 lakh cusecs of water were released, it would spell trouble for several districts downstream, the source added.
“As it is predicted that rainfall will continue till October 5 in Jharkhand, the state has decided on precautionary measures,” said an irrigation department official.
Sources said chief minister Mamata Banerjee did not want people to suffer floods ahead of the festive season and asked officials to initiate proper measures.
“Following the instructions of the chief minister, the chief secretary held the meeting on Monday morning and asked the district magistrates of the seven districts that may be affected owing to the release of water from the DVC and other dams like Massanjore in Jharkhand to initiate proper measures,” said a source.
Measures suggested by the authorities include:
Evacuation of people in low-lying areas of the districts should be initiated immediately and they should be shifted to safer places, including flood shelters.
Vulnerable embankments should be monitored closely and in case any breach is noticed steps should be initiated for immediate repairs.
The districts should reserve adequate relief materials to tackle the situation efficiently in case a flood-like situation emerges.
Executive engineers of the irrigation department should closely liaise with district authorities to ensure all river embankments are monitored.
Sources in the state administration said that in the past authorities have remained casual during the festive season, with common people suffering floods.
“But this time the chief minister wants to keep authorities on their toes as the weather conditions are threatening. She does not want to give the Opposition any scope to question the state’s approach if floods hit Bengal before the Lok Sabha polls,” said a source.