A group of Trinamul lawmakers from Murshidabad and Malda, the two districts in Bengal facing erosion caused by the Ganga, demonstrated in front of the office of the Farakka Barrage Project Authority on Monday.
They demanded immediate steps to prevent erosion and rehabilitate victims.
“Earlier, the FBPA used to take up anti-erosion work along a stretch of 120 kilometres (60km upstream and 60km downstream) of the barrage on both the banks of Ganga. However, since 2017, they have stopped. The Centre is silent and the entire onus is on the state government now,” said Sabina Yeasmin, minister of state for north Bengal development and irrigation, who is from Malda.
The MPs and MLAs, along with elected representatives of rural bodies, submitted a memorandum to FBPA.
The Bengal government, including chief minister Mamata Banerjee, have pointed out that the FBPA, which functions under the department of water resources, river development and Ganga rejuvenation of the Union Jal Shakti ministry, has been evading its responsibilities.
On Monday, the Trinamul legislators said they asked R.D. Deshpande, the general manager of FBPA, to come up with a positive response by November 1.
They said the state government has provided land to rehabilitate hundreds who lost their land and homes owing to erosion.
“On the other hand, acres of land which were acquired by FBPA and other central government departments are lying unused in these districts. If the Centre doesn’t make any move, we will be forced to take the erosion victims to these plots,” Yeasmin added.
Abdur Rahim Boxi, the Trinamul president of Malda district, said they would shut down all central government offices in both districts on November 1. “There will be blockades on rail track and national highways,” he said.
Kanai Chandra Mondal, a Trinamul MLA and president of the party’s Jangipur (organizational district), questioned the Centre’s intentions.
“Hundreds of crores are spent for beautification of the banks of Ganga in Varanasi and Allahabad. However, no fund is allotted for Malda and Murshidabad to tackle erosion. This shows the duplicity of the BJP government,” said Mondal.
Deshpande, the GM of FBPA, said their jurisdiction is 18km, downstream and upstream, of the barrage. “We can't take up work beyond it. We will forward the memorandum to senior officials,” he said.