PATNA: The flood situation in northern and eastern Bihar worsened on Tuesday and the death toll rose to 56 even as rescue and rehabilitation work continued on a war-footing amid reports about swollen rivers breaching their embankments at several locations, inundating villages and agricultural fields.
Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, who is monitoring the rescue and rehabilitation work carried out by over 2,000 trained personnel, conducted an aerial survey of the flood-hit districts for the second consecutive day. As many as 70 lakh people in 25 districts, 13 of them among the worst hit, have been affected by the floods caused by rivers overflowing due to incessant rains in their catchment areas in Nepal in the past four days.
With four major rivers – Kamla Balan, Baghmati, Gandak and Marha – having breached their embankments at several locations in the past 24 hours, scores of low-lying villages got inundated and thousands of people were forced to shift to safer locations. The situation turned grimmer after the meteorological department forecast on Tuesday about more rains with lightning in the next 24 hours.
“Over two lakh people have so far been evacuated from inundated areas by 44 rescue teams comprising trained personnel from National Disaster Response Force, State Disaster Response Force, the Army and Indian Air Force,” said Pratyay Amrit, principal secretary of Bihar’s disaster management department.
Most of the deaths due to the floods took place in West Champaran and Araria districts, said Anirudh Kumar, additional secretary of the disaster management department. As many as 98 blocks in 13 districts are currently struggling with swirling waters, he added.
District administration officials reached several areas cut off from the rest by boats to observe Independence Day with the local people there. All government offices and the court have been inundated. The official residence of Araria SP Dhurat Saayli Savlaram was inundated by flood waters, forcing her family to shift to the circuit house, but flood waters also entered this building.
“It may take at least a week for the situation to start returning to normalcy. It will happen when the flood waters recede from inundated areas. That will depend on the rains in Nepal’s southern parts relenting. But rescue, rehabilitation and relief work is going on well,” said Bihar water resources minister Rajiv Ranjan Singh. He rubbished RJD chief Lalu Prasad Yadav’s allegation of “shoddy rescue work” as “not based on facts”.
More than 65,000 people have been provided shelter at the 340 relief camps set up by the state government, said Singh.