DEATH toll in the Bihar floods on Tuesday reached 30 with five girls drowning in a pond in Sheohar district. However, the disaster management department has pegged the toll at 25 as it has not included the incident of drowning as a flood-related death in official figures.
Speaking in the Assembly, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar called it a “flash flood” caused by incessant rainfall in Nepal. “Generally, there are floods in Bihar in August. But it is flash flood, similar to the one in 2017. We are fully prepared to deal with it. Relief and rescue operations are on. We have arranged 199 relief camps for displaced people.”
Kumar also said the government had apprehensions about drought in several districts due to inadequate rainfall. More than 1 lakh people have been evacuated, he said.
While 11 people have died in Sitamarhi, nine deaths have been reported from Araria so far. A total of 25,71,600 people from 555 panchayats in 78 blocks are affected by the floods.
The Disaster Management Department’s Principal Secretary, Pratyaya Amrit, said, “We are running 676 community kitchens and 125 motorboats are engaged in relief and rescue operations with 25 NDRF and SDRF teams being on the job.”
For the past three or four days, the Terai region of Nepal has been lashed by rainfall ranging between 280 and 300 mm, which was many times higher than the 50 mm which is considered normal for the area during this time of the year, and as a result, several rivers in Bihar like Kosi, Bagmati and Mahananda have been in spate, he said.
The Chief Minister, who has conducted aerial surveys of the affected areas in the past few days, said top officials of village development and road construction departments have been asked to personally take stock of the damage caused so that rebuilding programmes are initiated once the situation is normal.
“All flood-affected districts have been allocated sufficient funds. It is being ensured that dependents of those who have lost their lives get ex-gratia within 24 hours of the deaths. It has been a standing principle of our government that those affected by calamities have the first claim to the governments coffers. Funds will not come in the way of rescue, relief and rehabilitation,” Kumar said.