Blaming the “irresponsive” and “irresponsible” central and West Bengal governments for the plight of the flood victims in northern Bengal, CPI-M politburo member Mohammed Salim on Tuesday alos criticised the media for not reaching the news of the “massive devastation” in the region to the people of the country. “Unfortunately we have an irresponsive central government, and an irresponsible state government, who have done nothing to ease the plight of the flood hit people. The devastation is massive, and has surpassed the intensity of the 1987 inundation.
“But due to the insensitiveness of the media, people of the country have no idea about the intensity of the floods in north Bengal. The television channels are carrying stories about Hilsa festival, and showing the Chief Minister (Mamata Banerjee) attending cultural soirees organised by the police. But they are not carrying stories on what the flood affected is going through,” Salim told a media meet here.
Salim, the Lok Sabha member from flood-hit Raiganj in North Dinajpur district, returned to the city after spending nine days in the various submerged districts.
Alleging that there was no administration in north Bengal over the past ten days, he said: “There is a severe shortage of food. People are not getting any relief from the government. Homeless people are sleeping in railway wagons, school buildings and embankments.”
He accused the state administration of not making any advance preparation to combat the floods which are an annual feature at this time of the year.
“No advance warning was issued, there was no announcement to warn the people. The government did not arrange for boats or speedboats to rescue the people. Every embankment has been breached, every culvert is broken,” said Salim.
Taking a dig at the Chief Minister, who visited the affected areas on Monday, Salim said that “she travelled in air-conditioned first class train coach, took along with her some embedded journalists, and some officers, and a minister”.
“Still people thought, now the condition will improve. The government visited, saw and returned. But there was no change in the people’s abysmal condition.”
The Communist Party of India-Marxist leader also wondered about the “whereabouts of the number of district airports and helicopter and air services which were announced with such fanfare”.
“Had the services really existed, that would have been a big relief for the people as there was no vehicular or train connectivity due to the damage to the roads and the railway tracks,” he said.
Salim also ripped apart the state government for not declaring for days that the region was flood affected.
“The floods started from Augus 12, but till August 20 the government only said it was a flood like situation. It was only on August 20 that the state officially admitted that the region was flooded. But by then the situation was devastating,” he added.
The CPI-M MP thanked the NGOs and common people for carrying out rescue and relief efforts in the absence of the government administration in north Bengal and asked people of south Bengal to stand by the flood affected.