After coming to power for the third time in West Bengal, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee is not looking to give up on the Ghatal masterplan anytime soon. She recently instructed state ministers to visit the flood-hit area of Ghatal and approach the central government for funds in Delhi.
Banerjee had instructed state irrigation minister Soumen Mohapatra to prepare documents and hold a meeting with a team of ministers, MPs and MLAs at Niti Aayog in the national capital. The team will meet jal shakti minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat as well.
Trinamool Congress chief whip in the Rajya Sabha Sukhendushekhar Roy said the Ghatal masterplan had not been implemented for the past six decades, for which the main reason was lack of funds. The chief minister has repeatedly approached the central government for financial aid, but it has not worked so far.
“Large areas of East Midnapore and West Midnapore are being inundated every year with massive loss to property, and farming is also being disrupted in these areas. People spend their days in floodplains,” said Roy.,
According to government sources, Banerjee wants the project to be implemented as soon as possible.
In addition to the Ghatal masterplan, representatives of the state government will also raise the issue of one or two river projects. Sources said after the construction of Farakka Dam in 1985, problems had arisen in 14 municipal areas from Farakka in Murshidabad to South 24 Parganas Sagar in two civic areas. The main issue is the reduced navigability of Bhagirathi river, they added.
Sources also said the poor condition of Kolkata port compounded the issue, and arsenic had been found in many areas due to excessive drop in groundwater levels. Issues related to Atreyi, Punarbhaba and Mahananda rivers in Dinajpur and Malda in North Bengal will also be discussed, sources added.