Lok Sabha polls: Two cinestars to face off in Bengal's Ghatal, make tackling floods top pitch

Two popular heroes of the Bengali film industry - Dev and Hiran, are contesting the Lok Sabha elections from the Ghatal Lok Sabha seat. For people in the Ghatal Lok Sabha constituency in West Bengal, floods have been an unaddressed issue for decades.
Last Updated : 18 April 2024, 09:43 IST
Last Updated : 18 April 2024, 09:43 IST

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Kolkata: For people in the Ghatal Lok Sabha constituency in West Bengal, floods have been an issue for decades, and it has remained unaddressed despite promises by leaders of different political parties over the year before elections.

Situated around 120 km from Kolkata, the Ghatal sub-division of Purba Medinipur district is in the lower reaches of Chota Nagpur plateau's catchment area of the Shilabati river and is hit by floods every year.

Frustrated by the unfulfilled promises of politicians to solve the flood problem, almost all locals own a boat to move when Ghatal remains inundated under water even months after the monsoon.

"I grew up seeing Ghatal under water. Nothing changed in the last 28 years. I do not think it will ever change. Elections come and go, netas make promises which fall flat after the polling is over and the issue goes into oblivion," Niranjan Hazra, a resident of Argora, told PTI when contacted.

Two popular heroes of the Bengali film industry - Dev aka Deepak Adhikary and Hiran aka Hiranmoy Chattopadhyay - are contesting the Lok Sabha elections from the Ghatal Lok Sabha seat.

Dev, the sitting TMC MP is seeking re-election from the seat on the TMC ticket while the BJP has nominated Hiranmoy Chattopadhyay, the MLA of Kharagpur, to take on Dev.

"I hope to continue the good work for the people of Ghatal. I wish to make the Ghatal model successful," Dev said.

"This (Ghatal Master plan implementation) is definitely a raging issue. I do not understand much about politics and that is in a way good for me. People understand this and I can also feel their pain. That is the reason I have decided to fight this election. And to implement it, if I have to take a rebirth, I will do that," the two-time MP said.

"He (Dev) himself is saying that he needs a rebirth to do the work which he could not do in 10 years. In this constituency, the money given by the Centre has been embezzled by creating fake job cards," Chattopadhyay, the BJP candidate said.

The BJP candidate has promised the people of Ghatal two things - improved railway service and turning the constituency into a 'Gold hub' apart from implementing the 'Ghatal Master Plan' to solve the flood problem.

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had in February this year announced that her government would implement the 'Ghatal Master Plan' without any help from the central government.

"Dev has told me about the Ghatal Master Plan. I have discussed the issue with the chief secretary and irrigation secretary. We are taking up the Ghatal Master Plan," Banerjee had said.

Banerjee said that it would require a budget of Rs 1,250 crore for the Ghatal Master Plan and it will help 17 lakh people.

Ghatal sub-division consists of five municipalities -- Chandrakona, Ramjibonpur, Khirpai, Kharar and Ghatal Municipality and five community development blocks - Ghatal, Chandrakona-I, Chandrakona-II, Daspur-I and Daspur-II.

A report of the Ghatal Municipality stated that every year flood water remains in wards 1 to 12 covering an area of over six square kilometre for two to three months.

The devastating floods of August 2021 breached at least 10 embankments alongside four blocks of Ghatal sub-divisions -- Daspur-1, Ghatal, Chandrakona-1, and Chandrakona-2 as well as adjoining Kharar municipality's wards, a senior official of the state irrigation department told PTI.

In 1979, the Irrigation Department of the erstwhile Left Front government had approved the 'Ghatal Master Plan' to save the people of the region from floods.

Ghatal Lok Sabha constituency is composed of seven assembly constituencies -- Panskura Paschim, Sabang, Pingla, Debra, Daspur, Ghatal (SC) and Keshpur (SC). Out of these, only Panskura Pachim assembly constituency is in the Purba Medinipur district.

Polling is scheduled in Ghatal in the sixth phase on May 25.

Published 18 April 2024, 09:43 IST

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