New Sundarban district, master plan required to prevent erosion: Mamata

The government is working closely with the Centre to save the diversity-rich region, says the CM

November 30, 2022 09:37 am | Updated 09:38 am IST - Kolkata

A tiger is seen in Sunderbans. Photo used for representation purpose only.

A tiger is seen in Sunderbans. Photo used for representation purpose only. | Photo Credit: AP

Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Tuesday said that her government is creating a new district of Sundarban and working on a master plan with the Centre to prevent river erosion in the region.

A proposal for creating a separate district of Sundarban that is coated in the southernmost part of the State’s South 24 Parganas and North 24 Parganas districts has been in the works for quite some time. The unique landscape of Sundarban with islands, creeks, mangrove forests, and a tiger reserve is home to about five million people. The region has been battered by frequent cyclones. Availing of health and other basic facilities is a challenge for people of the region. 

In July 2020, the Chief Minister had written to the then NITI Aayog vice-chairman Rajiv Kumar for preparing a master plan for the socio-economic development of the Sunderbans. She had, in a letter, called for a systematic review of the multiple challenges faced by the region.

Addressing a gathering at Hingalganj in West Bengal’s North 24 Parganas district, the Chief Minister said that she has inaugurated nine river jetties in the region for better transportation. Better connectivity will mean better tourism opportunities, she pointed out, adding that this can lead to more home stays coming up in that region.

At the public meeting, Ms. Banerjee urged forest officials not to stop people from entering the forest to collect forest produce. They can instead limit when they can enter the forest for the purpose, she added.

CM pulls up DM

During the event, the Chief Minister was visibly upset with the District Magistrate and questioned him over his failure to arrange blankets and winter garments that were scheduled to be distributed among the locals at the venue.

“I have brought 15,000 winter garments, and blankets for the locals. Where have you kept them? Bring them to me immediately. I will not continue with the program till you get those… I will wait here,” the Chief Minister told District Magistrate Sharad Dwivedi. 

Ms. Banerjee also threatened action against the officials for the alleged goof-up. “I’m sorry but I’ll have to take action in case the DM and block development officers don’t carry out their responsibilities properly,” she added. 

After waiting for 15 minutes on the stage, some winter garments were brought over to her and she distributed them among the locals.

The Chief Minister directed district officials to set up a camp at the venue and distribute winter clothing to the locals on Wednesday.

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