FB to demonstrate demanding repair of town saving dyke
BJP wants all-party meeting
The demand for regular maintenance and immediate repair of the embankment that is saving the town is getting momentum in Cooch Behar. Leaders of all major political parties agreed that the embankment should be protected at any cost to save the heritage town from the clutch of Torsa.
General secretary of the Cooch Behar district unit of the BJP, Mr Nikhil Ranjan Dey demanded the district administration to convene an all-party meeting to discuss the issue. As encroachers are to be removed from the embankment before commencement of renovation the administration should gather opinions from the political parties over issues like rehabilitation and compensation, he said. "We conveyed the matter to the irrigation division and the district administration on several occasions but to no avail. On Wednesday seepage of river water into the town caused panic among the citizens but the authorities are still taking no steps to repair the dyke. We do not believe in the irrigation division's assurance that no harm would be done by the seepage because the town had to experience a disaster many years ago when Torsa gobbled up a large section of the town", he recalled.
Chairman of Cooch Behar Municipality and also the president of the district unit of the Congress, Mr Biren Kundu opined that the seepage of river water through the sluice gates was an alarming matter. As the civic body has no authority to repair the embankment the administration should take the initiative. "I shall talk with the district magistrate Ms Smaraki Mahapatra over the matter", he said.
A senior citizen and also a member of the All India Congress Committee, Mrs Sabita Roy questioned that why the citizens should have to raise their voices over the issue. It is the government's duty to save the people and maintain the embankment regularly that was constructed following the instruction of the then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru. About the proposed all-party meeting she said at first the irrigation division should start their work to renovate the embankment. It should be identified who are opposing the repair of the town saving dyke, she said.
Cooch Behar (West) MLA and also a secretariat member of the Forward Bloc, Mr Akshay Thakur said demands were raised several times in the past but the administration and the irrigation division did nothing to maintain the embankment. He alleged that government funds have not been used for actual jobs. The 'no fear' assurance of the irrigation division is worthless, he commented. He demanded an immediate survey to identify: why the river water seeped into the town on Wednesday, why there is no arrangement to drain out the additional water, which parts of the embankment are weak and the reasons of it. An all-party meet was held at Mekhliganj over renovation of Teesta embankment and eviction of encroachers, but no similar initiative was taken in Cooch Behar.
Mr Thakur announced that the Forward Bloc would stage a 32-hour sit-in demonstration on 30-31 August demanding renovation of the Torsa dyke. He also demanded a survey on the existing condition of the embankment to identify its weak parts.
President of district Trinamul Congress, Mr Rabindranath Ghosh alleged that the irrigation division and district administration do nothing to maintain the embankment. It is decaying due to lack of regular maintenance. Funds are being misused and it is only inflating the pockets of some unscrupulous contractors and a section of dishonest officials, he alleged. No one saw ever any work to repair the embankment, he said.