Patna, Aug. 17: The death toll in one of Bihar’s most-devastating floods in recent times climbed to 98 today, the number of affected people rose to 93 lakh, the Kosi river inundated seven blocks in Saharsa, and fears grew that the floodwaters would add to an already swollen Ganga and result in the calamity affecting even more districts than the 17 already hit.
“The loss of lives has been the highest in Araria with 20 deaths, followed by East Champaran and West Champaran with 14 and 13 deaths, respectively,” said principal secretary (disaster management) Pratyaya Amrit. “The toll has been 12 in Madhepura, 11 in Sitamarhi, eight in Kishanganj, five in Purnea and Madhepura each, three in Saharsa, two in Sheohar and one in Supaul.”
Amrit said 3.59 lakh people have been shifted to safer places. Out of them, 2.13 lakh people have been put up in 504 relief camps, while 1,112 community kitchens are feeding 3.19 lakh flood victims.
Efforts are on to restore telecommunication services in Araria and other districts.
The government is worried that the floodwaters will stream into the Ganga, leading to flooding in more of Bihar’s 38 districts. The river is already flowing near the danger level from Gandhi Ghat in Patna to Bhagalpur and Katihar.
“The floodwater from the affected districts will flow down to the Ganga and the river may bring floods like 2016,” a senior government official said. “The NDRF has mapped the vulnerable points and has positioned a team at Didarganj near Patna.”
The silver lining is that though the India Meteorological Department (IMD) has forecast another week of rainfall in Bihar and Nepal, the intensity is expected to be less.
Floodwaters from the Gandak river are still wreaking havoc in the northwestern districts of the state, including East Champaran, West Champaran and Gopalganj.
Chief minister Nitish Kumar and his deputy Sushil Kumar Modi conducted an aerial survey of the three districts today. They also took stock of rescue-and-relief operations with officials of the three districts at Bettiah airport in West Champaran.
Nitish identified an area near Sagauli station and a sugar mill in East Champaran that need flood relief. He directed officials to airdrop food there, and 2.3 tonnes of dry ration was airdropped.
Nitish and Sushil visited the indoor stadium in Bettiah and inspected the food packets meant to be distributed among the affected people.
On Nitish’s orders, the district magistrates of Sitamarhi, Sheohar, Darbhanga, Madhubani, East Champaran, West Champaran also conducted an aerial survey of their areas to identify localities in need of relief.
The health department has started a toll-free number (104) for flood victims. It has directed all affected districts to maintain sufficient essential medicines, anti-snake venom serum, anti-rabies and anti-diarrhoea drugs.
In view of the devastation in East Champaran, IAS officer Anupam Kumar has been appointed as special district magistrate to oversee relief operations there.
“We have never ever seen such furious floods,” said Ujagari Devi, mukhiya of Rohiniya panchayat in Banjaria block of East Champaran. “The water level is so high this time that we have been forced to keep cattle on rooftops. The block office is also submerged. Though rescue of some people has been conducted, relief distribution is yet to start.”
Principal secretary (health) R.K Mahajn said senior doctors have been sent to affected areas and boat ambulances have been started.
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