Thursday, June 1, 2023

Flash flood deaths: TMC-BJP war of words over safety measures

The death of eight people in the flash flood in Mal river in Jalpaiguri during immersion of Durga idols triggered a war of words on Thursday between the TMC and BJP, which accused the administration of not taking adequate safety measures.
The ruling TMC discarded the allegations as baseless and urged the saffron camp to stop its “vulture politics” of trying to politicise even accidents in the state. Prime Minister Narendra Modi and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee Thursday announced ex-gratia of Rs two lakh each for the next of kin of those who lost their lives in the incident. Each of them also announced Rs 50,000 to the injured. The incident took place around 8.30 pm on Wednesday when hundreds of people gathered on the banks of the Mal river to participate in the immersion ceremony on Vijaya Dashami.
“Rs 2 lakh from PMNRF would be given to the next of kin of each of the deceased in the tragic mishap during Durga Puja festivities in Jalpaiguri, West Bengal. The injured would be given Rs 50,000,” the Prime Minister’s Office said in a tweet. The chief minister said about 70 people have been rescued and 13 people are undergoing treatment at the Mal super specialty hospital after the flash flood on Wednesday night. “A tragic flash flood hit the Mal River in Jalpaiguri as Durga Visarjan was underway. Eight people lost their lives, I pray that their families find strength and solace in these difficult times,” Banerjee tweeted. An official said that five of the deceased were women and a 17-year-old boy. “Around 70 people were saved by the efforts of the police, civil defence volunteers and local youth. I commend their selfless service. There have been no reports of missing persons so far. Search and rescue operations by NDRF and SDRF are still underway,” she said. Jalpaiguri district magistrate Moumita Godara said that more than 100 people had been rescued by Thursday afternoon.
“The flash flood struck all of a sudden and the people were swept away. Around 400-500 people were standing on the banks when the incident happened. So far eight bodies have been recovered and we have rescued around 100 people” Godara told PTI.
She refuted charges that the administration had not taken enough security measures to avert such an incident. “Immersion of Durga idols takes place at the spot every year and all safety measures had been taken. But what can be done if all of a sudden flash floods occur? Not a single moment was wasted after it and rescue operations were launched immediately,” she said. Leader of the Opposition in the state Assembly and BJP leader Suvendu Adhikari alleged that there were lacunae on the part of the state government in ensuring the safety and security of the devotees. “It is the responsibility of the state government to ensure the safety and security of the devotees. The administration should have been more careful as such flash floods are normal in hilly areas. Also there is no clarity on the death figures,” he said.
North Bengal Development Minister Udayan Guha dubbed BJP’s allegation of lacunae by the administration as baseless.
“The spot has been used for immersing idols in the river for the past several years. Had we stopped people from gathering at the spot, we would have been accused of not allowing them to practice religious rituals. We took all steps promptly for relief and rescue,” he said.
TMC state general secretary Kunal Ghosh said the BJP “should give up its habit of politicising everything under the sun”.
“BJP should stop its vulture politics as it will not yield any result. The state government has taken enough steps to ensure proper safety and rescue and relief operations,” he added.


Scorching months ahead

Savagery in Delhi

Don't Miss