The deaths of seven persons, including four children, on Saturday and Sunday owing to the collapse of mud walls of rural homes amid incessant rain have prompted the administration in several south Bengal districts to relocate people living in these vulnerable homes.
The deaths have also triggered a political debate between Trinamul and the BJP with the former holding the Centre responsible for the deaths as the Narendra Modi government has put a brake on funds to Bengal under the rural housing scheme
Trinamul national general secretary and MP Abhishek Banerjee, in Delhi during the party's protest against the central funds freeze, highlighted the deaths. He blamed Prime Minister Modi, Union rural development minister Giriraj Singh and Bengal BJP leaders.
In Bengal, around 11 lakh proposed durable homes were sanctioned under the rural housing scheme but work could not start as central funds did not arrive. The Centre bears 60 per cent of the cost of each concrete home and the state 40 per cent.
In Bankura district, where four persons died when weakened mud walls of their homes fell on them, the administration has shifted 650 people to various ICDS centres and government relief establishments. The district administration has also begun a block-level survey of mud houses and check if occupants need to be shifted elsewhere.
"We have asked BDOs to survey with help of experts. We have already shifted 650 people to safe places and our disaster management teams are also ready," said Siyad N., the district magistrate of Bankura.
In neighbouring Purulia, where a child was killed in her sleep on Sunday, the district administration has so far shifted 559 people in mud homes over the past three days.
People in mud homes are also scared following back-to-back incidents of deaths owing to wall collapse incidents.
The mud walls have been weakened following incessant rain in the region since Friday night.
"One child was killed and three more were injured when the mud wall of their house fell on Sunday. We were spending sleepless nights," said Bulurani Sahis of Kenda village in Purulia.
However, the administration has shifted most people to relief camps, Sahis said.
The situation is worrying as the state government on Monday issued a flood alert in seven south Bengal districts following the release of water from Damodar Valley Corporation (DVC) dams in Jharkhand which are inundated amid continuous rain in the upper catchment areas of that state.
On Tuesday, the Bengal government-controlled Durgapur barrage on the Damodar river started releasing 1.33 lakh cusec of water triggering panic as many low-lying areas near rivers Bankura, Hooghly, West and East Burdwan were waterlogged.
Durgapur Barrage receives water from DVC dams in Maithan and Panchet in Jharkhand. An official of Durgapur barrage said the situation was under control right now but the situation might worsen if more water needs to be released.
Officials in West and East Burdwan, two of seven districts put on flood alert, shifted over 800 people from mud homes near the Damodar river.
"The situation is under control so far. Our disaster management teams are ready. The process of shifting people from mud homes is on," said a West Burdwan official.