PATNA: The flood situation in northern and eastern Bihar remained alarming on Saturday as the death toll rose to 202 and the water level in several rivers continued to rise, inundating new areas and drawing comparisons to the massive damage caused by the Kosi tragedy of August 2008.
The number of people affected by the floods, caused by incessant rains in Nepal and northern parts of the state, reached 1.22 crore, adding to the pressure on the agencies engaged in rescue, relief distribution and rehabilitation exercises.
The level of floodwater in Muzaffarpur, East Champaran, Darbhanga and Samastipur districts kept on rising on Saturday, said disaster management department officials. With the Burhi Gandak river flowing above the danger mark, there was pressure on Muzaffarpur, Bihar’s second largest town and commercial centre. Dozens of villages on the outskirts of the town were inundated, forcing people to leave their homes.
In Darbhanga district, all schools were ordered to remain closed till August 22 due to the worsening flood situation. All passenger trains between Darbhanga and Samastipur were cancelled as floodwaters flowed over the tracks at several places.
“Nearly 1.22 crore people in 164 blocks of 18 districts have been affected by the floods. As many as 6.25 lakh people have been evacuated from flooded areas and brought to safer places,” said Anirudh Kumar, special secretary of the disaster management department. The state government has set up 1,336 relief camps in flood-hit districts, and 4.23 lakh people have taken shelter there.
The floods have damaged kharif crops spread across 5,27,550 hectares, paddy over 2.90 lakh hectares and corn across 10,227 hectares, said agriculture minister Prem Kumar. On August 18, 2008, the Kosi river breached its embankment at Kusaha near the India-Nepal border, flooding five districts of north Bihar and killing at least 250. The tragedy, had rendered over three million people homeless.