PATNA: While the world continues to battle the deadly coronavirus, for the eastern state of Bihar, another challenge lies ahead with an upcoming monsoon. Speaking to New Indian Express, Minister of Water Resource Department (WRD) of Bihar Government, Sanjay Kumar Jha said that the works started by WRD to ease the burden of unemployment and prior to the upcoming times of flood in Bihar.
How the state government is prepared to meet the challenges of the flood?
Along with the unprecedented crisis which has emerged due to outbreak of COVID-19, the waters resources department (WRD) has started a plethora of anti-erosion and flood protection works with a tentative target to complete by May 15. The work has begun with thousands of labourers under standard working safety norms and social distancing because of the COVID- 19, will help us to deal with the possible flood situation in the coming months. There are 393 schemes on which works are in progress under my regular review in Bihar's flood-prone areas.
How many labourers are being engaged for the time being?
Nearly 5000 labourers and migrants (after their proper screening) have been engaged in the flood protection schemes, which are being carried out across the flood-prone areas. Generating employment at the time of the COVID- 19 pandemic was the need of the hour to them and duty to our people-caring government led by Nitish Kumar ji, who himself owes profound experiences in every field of development.
Once the pandemic subsides, do you think the government will be able to minimise the flood-caused crisis?
Yes. If there is systematic as well as a scientific approach to any natural disaster like flood, fire and others, its devastating impacts are mitigated and minimise to a great extent. And the WRD in a very prior move has also set up a central monitoring cell -cum-war room to deal with the flood-related problems in well calculated and corrected ways on war-footing. The flood war-room is running under the constant monitoring of me and our officials with adequate facilities. So, there lies no need of being panic over this. All anti-erosion and flood protection works are being done with the latest technology and a high standard of work levels.
Which are some important areas where the WRD has started works?
They are Samastipur, Patna, Veerpur, Katihar, Gopalganj, Dehari, Terha Jaynagar and Muzaffarpur, wherein as of now 5018 local labourers have been engaged. Besides all works started by WRD, works employing nearly 3.63 lakh daily wage labourers have also been started under the MNREGA schemes in 7,388 villages amid the lockdown. The WRD has also decided to set up a toll-free Flood HelpLine for the people on which one can share details of problems including breaches developing in the embankments with the headquarters for rapid response. Around 2000 engineers are updating the daily progress report on the website of the department with photos for monitoring and people's scrutiny.