Just a few weeks after Assam was brought to its knees by the floods, now, the rising Ganga has displaced lakhs of people in Bihar and affected a number of people in Uttar Pradesh. The situation in Bihar, the most flood-prone State in the country, seems to be deteriorating by the hour. According to some estimates, over 10 lakh people have been hit and of them, over two lakh have been rendered homeless. Some reports suggest that the State is witnessing floods not seen since 1994.
Floods are not new to Bihar. It is almost an annual phenomenon, particularly for people living in north Bihar. However, somehow, every year, the same scenes unfold. It’s almost like Groundhog Day, one might say without exaggeration. Five NDRF teams have been deployed in Patna and two in Vaishali district for relief and rescue operations in the flood-affected riverine areas. The teams, comprising 200 personnel, left for Patna from INS Rajali on Saturday. Emergency meetings have been held and aerial surveys conducted as usual. To prevent Patna from being flooded, the state authorities claimed to have sealed openings along the 8.5 km-long Patna protection wall, constructed post-the floods in 1975. But the ground situation appears grim.
Against this backdrop, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, surprisingly, gave the issue a political twist, advising the Centre not to send any team to assess the damage. He wants a team of experts to examine the problem of silt in rivers. “This is the appropriate time to visit and gauge the problem but it should be impartial and not by someone who has already formed his own opinion,” the Chief Minister said at a press conference after reviewing the flood situation. This is not expected of Nitish Kumar. When a natural calamity strikes, politics should not come in the way of providing relief to the people. All the authorities concerned, both at the state level and the Centre, should work in tandem to help the affected.