With Bihar battling floods despite receiving less than normal rains, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Tuesday met Prime Minister Narendra Modi, seeking the Centre’s intervention as he insisted that desilting the river Ganga is the only solution to avoid the almost annual occurrence of floods. Modi offered assurance to him, saying immediate and positive action will be taken on his demands, including formulating a national silt management policy, Kumar told reporters after meeting the Prime Minister.
He also linked the Modi government’s ambitious Namami Gange project with better silt management in Bihar, saying if attention is not paid to the situation, then it will also put a question mark on the programme’s success as he feels like “crying” at the condition of Ganga in the state. “The very serious condition that we see today never occurred earlier. The only way to get rid of this is desiltation. There is a need for national silt management policy,” he said.
He urged Modi to send a team of experts to assess the “unprecedented” situation in the eastern state while noting that it is the best time to evaluate the conditions there. “The Prime Minister assured me that experts will be sent and a decision on this subject should be taken soon. Immediate and positive action will have to be taken,” he said.
The Chief Minister expressed concern that the situation can only worsen if it is not dealt with effectively and the state will have to face more severe consequences in the coming years. Though Bihar has received 14 per cent less rains than normal during the monsoons, large parts of the state have been flooded due to high rain fall in Nepal besides states like Madhya Pradesh and Jharkhand, leading to huge discharge of water into rivers passing through it.
Kumar also appeared to blame Farakka barrage for the situation. He has earlier held it responsible for increasing siltage in the Ganga river basin. Due to silt, Ganga could not store the amount of water it used to earlier, leading to flood-like condition despite not receiving proportionate amount of rain fall, he said.
All earlier records have been broken, Nitish Kumar said about the flood conditions. Kumar said he had taken up the matter with the UPA government as well and taken the then minister concerned Pawan Bansal on a tour of the flood-hit regions but nothing happened after that.
His government is yet to evaluate the losses caused by the floods, he said adding that the state had suffered massive damages. “We are presently focusing on rescue and relief operation. Let the water recede first… After a week, we will be assessing the damages,” he said.