Expert panel told to find solution to prevent flooding during cyclones: Mamata

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Kolkata, Jun 7 (PTI) West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Monday said that an expert committee has been formed to study and find out a long-term solution that would prevent flooding and embankment breaches in the state's coastal areas during cyclones.

Banerjee, during an administrative review meeting, said noted expert and West Bengal Pollution Control Board (WBPCB) chairman Kalyan Rudra will be heading the 24-member panel, which would analyse the situation and provide recommendations suited to the coastal belts.

'The committee, with experts from leading universities and officials of the environment department as members, will be headed by Rudra. It is expected to provide a long-term solution to the problems caused by frequent cyclones, the latest being Yaas,' the CM said.

She noted that imminent high tides on June 11 and 26 pose more threat to the low-lying Yaas-battered belts in South 24 Parganas and Purba Medinipur, and said 'it has to be seen that there was no further damage to property'.

Banerjee sought two master plans from the expert panel to stop river siltation in Howrah and Barrackpore subdivisions, while also pointing out that the cash-starved state was not in a position to finance the projects entirely.

Talking about restoration of embankments, Banerjee said a total of 317 breaches have been recorded, and 50 per cent of the work is expected to get completed by June 10.

Barring a 7.5 km-stretch spanning Mousumi and Sagar islands in South 24 Parganas, work to rebuild embankments will be over in all other areas by the end of June, she said.

'Around 20,000 villagers in this stretch, among the worst cyclone-hit areas, are still living in difficult conditions,' she said, adding that people in Sunderbans are also fighting a similar plight.

Five crore mangrove saplings were planted in Sunderbans after Cyclone Amphan last year, 15 crore more will be sowed in vulnerable areas in the coming days.

Asked about the recurrent flood caused in stretches of Howrah and Hooghly districts with the DVC releasing water from its reservoir during heavy rain, the CM said, 'We need to coordinate; the DVC doesn't do this without discussing. There should be proper coordination in the matter.' She expressed concern over the rise in pollution levels in river Hooghly and its channels.

'All waterbodies, including the Adi Ganga canal, should be cleaned from time to time. A new technology has to be adopted to depollute water,' Banerjee stressed.

The CM gave assurance that relief would be extended to all those who have suffered damage due to Cyclone Yaas, which struck the state and neighbouring Odisha on May 26.

As of Monday, the state has received 76,000 applications under its Duare Tran (relief at doorstep) scheme, which was floated on June 3 and will continue to accept requests till June 18.

All applications will be reviewed before relief is sent out to the affected in July, she maintained.

'The Centre may delay fund release. But we have to see to it that poor people are not inconvenienced in getting their dues,' she added. PTI SUS RMS RMS