New Delhi: A day after West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee asked Damodar Valley Corporation (DVC) not to release water without informing her state, the Corporation on Sunday came out with public advertisements in major newspapers claiming multiple authorities in the state were informed about water release in advance.
The flood situation in seven south Bengal districts has snowballed into a controversy after Banerjee’s charge. “In the last three days, they (DVC) have released more than 10 lakh cusecs of water, most of which has been released without informing the state. This is a crime and the state is not going to sit and watch. If they do it again, the state will be forced to demand compensation,” she had told media persons on Saturday.
The DVC has a network of four dams – Tilaiya and Maithon on Barakar river, Panchet on river Damodar, and Konar on the river Konar. Besides the Durgapur barrage and the canal network, handed over to the West Bengal government in 1964, Bokaro barrage is used to provide cooling water to BTPS. As per the DVC website: “In the existing scenario, utilisable flood reserve capacity is 971 MCM as available in four reservoirs. The combined flood storage in Maithon and Panchet reservoirs can safely moderate a peak flood of 14,169 cumec (cubic metres per second) to safe lower Damodar channel carrying capacity of 36,684 cumec.”
On the mechanism of flood moderation by the DVC dams, an official said: “The water release from the DVC dams for moderation of flood is as per the advice of the Damodar Valley Reservoir Regulation Committee (DVRRC). It is headed by Member (R&M), Central Water Commission, New Delhi. The DVRRC comprises members in the rank of Chief Engineer from the governments of West Bengal and Jharkhand and DVC.”
After Banerjee’s allegations, the DVC came out with advertisements in multiple news papers on Sunday. “DVC authorities only follow the water release advice and instructions of the DVRRC towards discharge of water through dams and has no role in the quantum of water released. The release advice are as per the capacity of the dams to hold water up to a certain level,” the advert said.
Moreover, it said that “before the release of water, flood warning messages are communicated well in advance to Chief Engineers of Government of West Bengal, District Magistrates of Purba Bardhaman, Paschim Bardhman, Purulia, Bankura, and Superintending Engineer and Executive Engineer, Durgapur, government of West Bengal”.
It also said that the Executive Engineer, Durgapur, communicates the messages to the District Magistrates of Hooghly, and Howrah, SDOs, ADMs, BDOs and others as per the Flood Warning Memorandum. “This is as per the established system followed during flood events,” the advertisement read.
An official from the Central Water Commission, who did not want to be identified, said: “This happens every year. Not just are the West Bengal engineers and other top level officials are part of the DVC’s DVRRC, but they also have a dedicated WhatsApp group and every single release is let known to the downstream authorities. The Chief Minister is unnecessarily raking up the issue.”