BJP & CPM flay govt ‘inefficiency’ at Durgapur Barrage
The CPM and the BJP on Wednesday accused the Mamata Banerjee government of “inefficiency” and “corruption” over the Durgapur Barrage incident.
They pointed out that the state irrigation department, entrusted with maintaining the facility, could not restore normality in the area even after five days of the sluice gate No. 31 getting damaged on Saturday.
The BJP said that the government had shown “extreme inefficiency” in dealing with the situation, while the CPM said the connivance of a section of irrigation officials with the sand mafia had led to the incident.
The damage severely affected water supply in Durgapur and Bankura. Since Tuesday there power cuts started in the region. These twin troubles have sparked a political outcry over the state government’s handling of the crises.
The BJP said the government did not go beyond conducting a survey after a similar incident had led to a public outcry in 2017.
“In 2017, the government had announced of replacing 11 gates of the barrage and repairing the remaining gates, but the announcement remained only in newspapers. Since Saturday, people are suffering because of shortage of water and power supply,” said S.S. Ahluwalia, BJP MP from Burdwan-Durgapur.
Ahluwalia, in a news meet at his Durgapur residence on Wednesday, also accused the government of not providing adequate water to the people and alleged that some Trinamul workers were “black marketing water” to profit from people’s crisis. “I have spoken to the Eastern Coalfields and Durgapur Steel Plant officials to join the restoration effort… It (the crisis) requires collective effort and there should not be any ego or politics,” he said.
Trinamul MLA Biswanath Padial questioned the MP’s criticism and said Ahluwalia should first explain the reason for his long disappearance when people were in distress.
Padial said: “What he was doing when poor people were not getting food during the lockdown?”
The CPM on Wednesday held rallies in Durgapur town demanding water and accused the state government of “inefficiency”. They also demanded that the government make public CCTV footage of the barrage gates when the incident occurred.
“A section of irrigation employees, who operate the sluice gates, are hand in glove with the sand mafia. They lift the gates to let sand from the upper catchment area flow to the lower catchment. The gate that got damaged is usually lifted only in case of an emergency. The government should come clean on what led to the lifting of gate no. 31 and its subsequent damage,” said Pankaj Roy Sarkar, CPM West Burdwan district secretariat member.
He said in 2017, gate no. 1 had been damaged. “That gate too is rarely operated. It is intriguing why only gates at the two ends get damaged,” Roy Sarkar said.
“The government had ordered an inquiry after we raised the issue of corrupt practices in 2017, but we do not know the outcome of the probe,” he added.
Local irrigation officials, however, refuted the charges of corruption levelled against them. “Twisting of the gate is a technical issue and happened because of lack of maintenance,” said an engineer of the irrigation department.