West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee took a train from Kolkata, drove to inundated areas of North Bengal and walked in ankle-deep water to meet victims who have lost their homes, crops and livelihoods to incessant rains over the last week.
Floods have ravaged Cooch Behar, South Dinajpur, North Dinajpur, Jalpaiguri, Alipurduar and Malda districts in the state. Rail lines and roads have been under water with barely any connectivity between north and south Bengal.
152 people have died, 1.5 crore have displaced and there have been damages to the tune of Rs. 14,000 crore, she said yesterday while demanding a relief package from the Central government for her flood-hit state on the lines of the grants given to BJP-ruled Assam and Gujarat.
“Centre has given a package of Rs. 2,000 crore to flood-hit Assam, also a package to Gujarat. I have no objection. I want all states to get central help. But fury of the floods is no less in Bengal than Gujarat and Assam. We will also send a detailed report. We want we be given whatever is our due,” she said in Malda during a visit to the flood-affected areas of three north Bengal districts.
However, the opposition termed the Trinamool Congress chief’s visit as “flood tourism”.
BJP’s state president Dilip Ghosh hit out at her government and said, “The state government has no idea about the flood situation, no real data. Now I see the chief minister in hawai chappals standing in water and being photographed. Will that help the people? She must ask the Centre for help.”
Flood victims at relief camps also claimed that their Chief Minister had no consolation or time for them.
Her convoy took waterlogged highways from Malda town to Buniadpur in South Dinajpur district. However, after a point, the road disappeared under water and they had to take a detour to Itahar in North Dinajpur instead.
At Buniadpur, flood victims waiting to meet Mamata Bamerjee were left angry and a local Trinamool leader red-faced.
Bachchu Haldar at a relief camp said, “The chief minister was supposed to come to Buniadpur and meet us. Now she has called the local leaders to Malda for a meeting.”
Others in Gajole in Malda also complained that Mamata Banerjee didn’t have more than a few minutes for them.
Champa Bauri, 35, said, “She was here maybe for five minutes. She just saw our condition but didn’t talk to us. She had no time to listen to our problems. Our homes are gone, there is nothing left for us now.”