Loockgate number 31 of Durgapur Barrage suffered heavy damage on Friday night, leading to a wave of panic among locals about flood and unavailability of drinking water in upcoming days.

Employees who guard the loockgates in the 692-metre long Durgapur Barrage – built on the Damodar River in 1955 – noticed that the metal gate number 31 was damaged and water was flowing through it. They rang an alarm and informed the higher authorities immediately.

As per reports in Bengali media, the repairing work of the gate had not begun till noon on Saturday. As a result, huge quantity of water was gushing out of the barrage uncontrollably.

The Irrigation Department officials and Mayor of Durgapur Municipal Corruption, Dilip Agasthi, Durgapur West MLA, Biswanath Parial, and other concerned officials had reached the location immediately after the incident occurred.

Due to the unchecked flow of hundreds of cusecs of water, locals feared an inundation of low-lying areas of West Bengal’s West Burdwan district. Also, the barrage is only source of drinking water for the residents of West Burdwan.

State irrigation department and the barrage officials have expressed apprehension that a disruption may happen in distribution of drinking water in areas falling under Durgapur and Asansol Municipality.

Trying to pacify the situation, Mayor Agasti said that the corporation was ready to tackle the situation. He informed that organisations responsible for distribution of water have been asked to store enough water for 2-3 days.

The repairing work is expected to take similar number of days and the flow of water will be stopped during that course of time.

In what was easily a civil crisis, has already been turned into a political one. Local BJP MP Subhash Sarkar has claimed that the incident was a result of Trinamool Congress-led West Bengal government’s failure in running the barrage properly.

A similar kind of accident had happened in Durgapur Barrage’s lockgate number 1 in 2017. Sarkar alleged that despite the incident three years ago, the State Government had not taken any concrete action for the barrage’s better maintenance.

TMC’s Durgapur MLA Pariyal, though, had refused to indulge politics in the matter. He said that work to repair all the gates had been initiated after the accident in 2017. The work, as per Pariyal, was continuing since then before the lockgate 31 broke down on Friday.