Over 3 lakh Bihar people hit by flood amid pandemicPatna: July 21, 2020 20:18 IST
People asked to shift to higher, safer places as level in flooded rivers could rise in next 24 hours.
Over three lakh people in eight districts of north Bihar have been affected by flood as heavy rainfall continued in catchment areas of neighbouring Nepal. The State government on Tuesday put the district authorities on high alert and requested people to shift to higher and safer places as the water level in flooded rivers could rise in the next 24 hours.
Flood water has gushed into many low-lying areas of East Champaran, Gopalganj, Supaul, Darbhanga, Kishanganj, Muzaffarpur, Sitamarhi and Sheohar districts, affecting over three lakh population in 37 blocks of 156 panchayats. Flood threat has also been issued in Madhubani, Siwan, Madhepura, Katihar and other districts, as rivers like the Gandak, Bagmati, Burhi Gandak, Kamla Balan, Kosi, Lalbakeya and the Mahananda are flowing above the danger level.
On Tuesday, 4.25 lakh cusecs was discharged from the Valmikinagar barrage on the Gandak in West Champaran district causing flood in the tributaries as well. All the 36 gates of the barrage have been opened to allow the water flow from Nepal into the State rivers. “We’ve made arrangements for a discharge of up to 5 lakh cusecs in the barrage… so far, the situation is under control but we’re constantly appealing to people to come out of their villages and take shelter on high and safer grounds”, said an official of the Disaster Management Department.
On Monday, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar directed officials of the Disaster Management and Water Resources departments to initiate relief measures as per Standard Operating Procedure (SOP). “Separate disaster relief centres will be formed for people living in containment zones of the flood-affected areas… use of gloves and masks will be mandatory for them”, an official of the Disaster Management told The Hindu .
The government is currently running seven relief camps and 27 community kitchens in the flood-affected areas where over 2,000 people have taken shelter.
However, at most places like in East Champaran, Gopalganj, Sitamarhi and Darbhanga, people have taken shelter either on embankments or on the national highways. In East Champaran district, the administration has provided tarpaulin and chura-gur (flattened rice and jaggery) to those living on the embankments between Piprakothi and Gopalganj. A power generator too has been arranged for them. But at other places, people could be seen living in rows of black tarpaulin tents along with family members, and their cattle tied alongside on the highways and embankments.
“No one has come to see us and neither any relief come... you all can see how we’re living here with our little children and cattle in these tents… everything in our village is submerged in flood water”, an elderly woman is heard telling a local TV news channel.
In Sitamarhi, Sheohar, Darbhanga and Gopalganj districts too, marooned people could be seen leaving for safer places in country and make-shift boats. “Flood is an annual ritual for us but this time spread of Coronavirus has doubled our problem”, sexagenarian Udit Rai of Sheohar said.
As many as 16 teams of the 9th battalion of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) have been deployed in 11 flood-affected districts. Several teams of the State Disaster Response Force (SDRF) too are deployed and they are working in coordination with the respective district administrations.
“This time, our officials and personnel are also following dos and donts of COVID-19 and requesting people to wear mask while maintaining safe distance from each other…the NDRF personnel are ready for operations in flood-affected areas”, Vijay Sinha, Commandant, 9th battalion of the NDRF, said.