Mamata may talk to PM on Farakka sluice gate issue

Kolkata: Seeking to step up her campaign on the Farakka barrage broken sluice gates issue which she claimed allowed "excess" Ganges water flow to Bangladesh, West Bengal Chief Minister would meet Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in New Delhi on February 22 to flag her concern on the matter.

She would also take up the implementation of Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA) during the meeting with the Prime Minister, Mamata told PTI.

"I sought an appointment with the Prime Minister to discuss the issue of GTA and the problem arising out of excess flow of water to Bangladesh through the broken sluice gates on Farakka barrage. I will discuss these issues with him on Wednesday. I will leave for Delhi tomorrow," she said.

The broken sluice gates of the barrage has been the latest flashpoint between the Mamata Banerjee government and the Centre.

The chief minister has expressed concern that the two broken sluice gates had led to release of Ganga water to Bangladesh much above what the neighbour is "entitled to" during the dry season.

Recently, the Gorkha Janamukti Morcha (GJM), which had spearheaded the movements for a separate statehood for the Gorkhas in Darjeeling, threatened to go resume the agitation for their demand from March 27 unless GTA was implemented before that.

GJM leaders have also threatened to burn the original tripartite agreement signed last year in Darjeeling in the presence of Union Home Minister P Chidambaram and Mamata Banerjee and go for an indefinite agitation in the hills from March 27.

The GJM leaders had met the chief minister over the issue at Siliguri recently.

Banerjee said that the tripartite agreement on Gorkhaland Territorial Administration had already been signed, but its implementation was being delayed.

"Why should there be delay? I will seek PM's intervention", she said.

Asked if she would also discuss the controversial proposal to set up the National Counter Terrorism Centre (NCTC) with PM, the chief minister said, "I have already given a letter to the Prime Minister that will speak for itself.

"Everything is mentioned in that letter," she said without elaborating further.

Expressing concern over the alleged infringement of federal rights of state, Banerjee in a letter to the Prime Minister on February 14 had said: "It is difficult for the state government to accept such arbitrary exercise of power by the central government/central agency, which have a bearing on the rights and privilege of the states as enshrined in the Constitution of India."

Last Saturday, Banerjee had alleged that the Centre had kept secret the fact about the two damaged sluice gates on the Farakka Barrage, resulting in Bangladesh getting 82,801 cusecs of water as against 35,000 cusecs it is supposed to get during the dry season.