With every monsoon posing a risk of flood and erosion in West Bengal, the Union Ministry of Jal Shakti has claimed, this month, that a total of Rs 1051.96 crores was released to the state for Flood Management Programme (FMP), under which, about 16 projects out of 18 have been completed and which helped protect a population of 2.35 million in the state. The Annual Flood Report 2021 by the state government claimed there are a total of 19 flood-susceptible districts and 198 vulnerable blocks. At present, 42.55 per cent of the total area of the state is susceptible to flood. It claimed that the major contributing factors to floods in North Bengal regions are the run-off because of heavy local rainfall, discharge of upper basin areas and also outfall condition in the neighbouring countries.
The Mahananda and most of the rivers of North and South Dinajpur districts get stagnated when the Ganga upstream and downstream of Farakka Barrage rules high thereby not allowing drainage of flood discharge during that period. For South Bengal, it highlighted that flood in this zone becomes voluminous because of the shape of the catchment area, its steep slope starting from a high-level plateau area and sloping sharply down to a flat terrain near the outfall of limited capacity. This feature is again adversely affected by tidal conditions as is generally noticed in the month of September, the likely month of occurrence of flood.
Replying to a question in Parliament, this month, about the flood control measures taken up in River Ganga by the Jal Shakti ministry, the minister of state (MoS), Bishweswar Tudu said “In West Bengal, 18 projects were included for central assistance under FMP component of ongoing Flood Management and Border Area Programme (FMBAP) of Ministry of Jal Shakti. The 16 completed projects have given protection to an area of around 0.937 lakh hectares and protected a population of about 2.35 million. Central assistance amounting to the tune of Rs. 1051.96 crores has been released to West Bengal under FMP.”
“Bank protection, anti-erosion measures, and river training works are also carried out by Farakka Barrage Project on River Ganga within its jurisdiction of 12.5 km upstream and 6.9 km downstream of Farakka Barrage. During the last ten years, an expenditure of Rs. 165 crores has been incurred by Farakka Barrage Project for implementing such works.” In the context of erosion, the Alipurduar and Cooch Behar districts were severely affected in 2021. A report on coastline erosion by the Union Ministry of Earth Sciences, tabled in parliament in April 2022, highlighted that about 60.5 per cent of the state’s coastline underwent erosion, which is the highest among other states.