Bihar faces flood scare

People wading through a water-logged road following heavy rain in Patna on Monday.– Photo: PTI  

Cyclone Phailin made its impact on Bihar, with continual rainfall and strong winds lashing it for the second consecutive day on Monday. The next 48 hours are believed to be crucial as heavy rains in neighbouring Nepal could cause flooding in the northern parts of the State.

Winds blowing at a speed of 40-50 kmph are expected to persist over the next two days, coupled with heavy rainfall in the low-lying areas.

Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Monday took stock of the preparedness to handle floods and issued directions to district officials to be on the alert.

“Since yesterday [Sunday], Bihar has been experiencing strong winds and rains. The cyclone’s impact has been felt somewhat in south Bihar, and to a great extent in north Bihar. The cyclone has started to move towards Nepal. If there are heavy rains in Nepal, there could be a rise in the water levels of the rivers [in Bihar], which emanate from Nepal. If it leads to a flood-like situation, we are prepared to deal with it. All district administrations have been alerted to be prepared for any such situation,” Mr. Kumar said.

Currently, the water levels of the Gandak and Kosi rivers are low, but there is a possibility of water overflowing from the Adhwara group of rivers owing to their shallow depth.

In view of the flood scare, the government has cut power supply in many areas across the State to prevent rain-related mishaps.

“Due to strong winds, we have reduced the drawal of power from the grid. In several places, power supply has been disconnected and in others, there is a lot of fluctuation. This has been done to prevent any mishap that might occur if an electricity tower collapses or a cable falls,” Mr. Kumar said.

The rough weather dampened the festive spirit on the day of Vijaya Dashami.

“We will appeal to people that this is a situation of natural disaster and everyone has to cooperate,” he said.

There were no official reports of storm-related casualty.

“There have been no deaths so far. We [have made] preparations to follow the standard operating procedure [SOP],” Vipin Kumar Rai, Officer on Special Duty, Disaster Management Department, told The Hindu .

He said Bihar had, in the last 24 hours, received an average of 77 mm of rainfall, with Purnia district being the worst-affected.

As per the SOP, the district administrations have identified vulnerable areas and safe places for shelter. They have been told to make arrangements for boats, patrol bay areas, check availability of essential medicines and keep medical teams on standby.