Expecting an influx of people from neighbouring Assam, the Alipurduar district administration has cleaned at least 10 flood shelters situated along the Assam-West Bengal border in the district to house anyone who arrives in the district from there.
The move has been prompted by the fact that the final draft of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Assam has left out around 40 lakh people, who, on failing to establish themselves as Indian nationals, may be thrown out of the state.
District administration sources said that the shelters are ready just in case people are chased away from Assam and they land on the West Bengal side.
It is learnt that some Adivasi and Bodo people living in Assam had come to Alipurduar by crossing the state border during the Adivasi-Bodo communal clash in 2014 in Assam.
They were then kept in the flood shelters and Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had visited Changmari under the Kumargrame police station here to meet those people.
The CM also assured all possible help to the people at the refugee camp at the Changmari flood shelter.
Flood shelters along the Assam-Bengal border at Pakuriguri, East Shalbari, Hemaguri, Changmari, Madhya Haldibari and Balapara have been cleaned, it is learnt.
Local panchayats are also instructed to be ready to arrange everything for the people who may come from Assam, it is learnt.
“Chief minister Mamata Banerjee already said that we will welcome people if they cross the border to West Bengal seeking shelter. We have cleaned the flood shelters in our area and have asked the local people living aournd the flood shelters to be ready to welcome our guests who may come from Assam,” said the panchayat member of the Pakuriguri Gram Panchayat, Mantu Biswas.
“Nobody has so far arrived on our side for shelter. We are ready to face any eventuality that comes up after the publication of the NRC in Assam. Flood shelters are ready for the people if needed,” said Alipurduar DM, Nikhil Nirmal.