Malda North MP Khagen Murmu and over 100 victims of riverbank erosion started an indefinite sit-in demonstration in front of the district collectorate here on Friday to press for the immediate rehabilitation of the affected people.
Malda district Trinamul Congress leaders said the MP's dharna was a “planned attempt to mislead residents and erosion victims".
Around 1pm, Murmu, along with representatives of 112 families of Ratua 2 block, reached in front of the district magistrate’s office. He demanded that district magistrate Nitin Singhania immediately meet them and promise that the homeless families would be rehabilitated soon.
Soon, a large contingent of police reached the spot and cordoned off the area. As Murmu and his associates were not allowed to enter the office premises, he got into a quarrel with police officers.
Around 1.15pm, the MP announced that he would launch a demonstration and would not withdraw it until Singhania met him.
“The district administration and the elected representatives of Trinamul are washing their hands off by visiting the erosion-affected areas and by blaming the Centre. The administration often takes pride in the success of ‘Duare Sarkar’ camps but when erosion victims have come to meet the DM, he is not ready to listen to them. They cannot evade their responsibility," said Murmu.
In the past few months, as erosion has turned acute in Malda and in blocks like Samserganj of Murshidabad, chief minister Mamata Banerjee and her cabinet colleagues have blamed the Centre for being apathetic.
Mamata expressed disgruntlement with the non-allocation of funds by the central government.
Murmu, however, asserted that so far, the state government had not sent any concrete proposal to the Centre to carry out extensive anti-erosion measures in Bengal.
“I contacted the principal secretary of the state irrigation department and asked him to send me copies of all written communications made to the central government with a definite proposal to prevent erosion. He only bought time and couldn’t provide any documents to me. The Union water resources minister has clearly told me that the Bengal government has not sent any letter to his ministry on the issue,” the MP said.
As the demonstration continued, representatives of the district administration approached Murmu and said he could meet the additional district magistrate (general). Murmu, however, didn’t budge and said he would only meet the DM.
The demonstration was going on when this report was filed at 8.30pm.
Abdur Rahim Boxi, the district president of Trinamul, accused Murmu of resorting to drama.
“In recent years, the central government has not spent a single penny for anti-erosion tasks in Malda. The state, on the other hand, provided funds out of its limited resources to stem the erosion. People are aware of it and BJP leaders also know that their prospects in Malda in the upcoming Lok Sabha polls are not good. That is why the MP is resorting to such antics,” said Boxi.