Joshimath is sinking: Describing the situation in calamity-hit Joshimath as ‘very dangerous’, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Tuesday said the residents of the tiny hill town in Uttarakhand were not responsible for the disaster and the Centre must take steps on a war-footing to protect people. She said the government should have taken steps much earlier as there were already predictions of land subsidence. Banerjee said the Raniganj coal belt in West Bengal’s Paschim Bardhaman district might also face a fate similar to that of Joshimath as the area is also subsidence-prone.
“Why were necessary steps not taken when there were warnings of possible landslides? The situation in Joshimath is very dangerous. The residents of the hill town, however, are not responsible. It is the duty of the government to take care of the people if there is any disaster,” Banerjee said at Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose International Airport in Kolkata. “The government must take steps on a war-footing so that people do not suffer,” she added.
Banerjee was leaving for Alipurduar where she is scheduled to meet party leaders and hold meetings with government officials before leaving for poll-bound Meghalaya. West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Tuesday asserted that the people of poll-bound Meghalaya want a change in the government. Banerjee, who is scheduled to visit the northeastern state on Wednesday, said there should be a peaceful resolution of the Assam-Meghalaya border dispute. “People of Meghalaya want a change (in government). There have been issues between Assam and Meghalaya. There should be a peaceful resolution to the border dispute between the two states,” Banerjee told reporters at Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose International Airport here before leaving for Alipurduar district in northern West Bengal.
The Trinamool Congress supremo, who will be accompanied by the party’s national general secretary Abhishek Banerjee and MP Derek O’Brien, is scheduled to hold a public meeting in North Garo Hills district in Meghalaya ahead of the assembly polls due this year. Banerjee had addressed a TMC workers’ convention in the northeastern state in December.
The TMC has been trying to expand its footprint in Meghalaya, along with Assam and Tripura. It became the main opposition party in Meghalaya after several Congress rebel MLAs led by former chief minister Mukul Sangma joined the Banerjee-led party. At least six people, including five tribals from Meghalaya and an Assam forest guard, were killed in a violent clash along the disputed inter-state boundary in November last year.