“Current flood like situation in 12 districts including Patna has been caused by huge siltation in river Ganga. This situation is result of silt being deposited in Ganga due to construction of Farakka dam in West Bengal. The only way to remove silt from the river is to remove the Farakka dam,” Nitish told reporters after holding a review meeting with senior officials on flood situation at the state secretariat here.
“If the Centre has any other option (other than removing the dam), then it should start working for silt removal from the river bed,” he said.
Earlier on July 17 this year, Nitish had raised the demand for removal of the dam at the 11th Inter State Council meeting held in New Delhi, saying, “The disadvantages of the Farakka dam appear to be higher than its benefits.”
Raising the issue of Bihar’s share in Ganges waters at the Inter State Council meeting, Nitish had also sought the Centre’s intervention to ensure uninterrupted flow of water from the states of upper co-basin, so that the entire length of Ganga has continuous supply of water even during lean season. The Inter council meeting was chaired by PM Narendra Modi and attended by CMs of different states and Union ministers. Later in his Independence day address in Patna, Nitish had said that the depth of river Ganga had reduced following the silt deposition in the river due to construction of dam at Farakka.
Talking to media persons after the review meeting, Nitish said Army and Air Force authorities have been briefed about flood situation in the state and they have been kept on alert.
“If needed, Air force will be called and people will be airlifted from the marooned villages in diara (riverine) areas of river Ganga,” he told reporters after the meeting, which was also attended by state’s water resources minister Rajiv Ranjan Singh and disaster management minister Chandrashekhar.
Nitish said people living in the state capital should not be frightened as “till date, there is no possibility of flood waters entering into residential areas of Patna.” He said the flood scenario around Patna was thoroughly reviewed at the meeting. “Though flood waters of Ganga have spread upto the capital’s protection wall, till date there is no possibility of waters entering into the main residential localities,” he said.
While interacting with district magistrates (DMs) of flood affected areas through video-conferencing, CM asked the district officials to set up sufficient number of relief camps and ensure safe transportation of people and cattle heads upto such camps.
He asked the DMs to make all necessary arrangements including safe drinking water, medicines and utensils at the relief camps to ensure proper fooding and lodging of people staying there. Nitish said the calamity-affected people holds the first right on state exchequers, hence the DMs should not hesitate in making proper arrangements of food and lodging at the camps. He also asked the DMs to make aerial survey of their respective flooded areas to make proper assessment of losses. He also suggested the DMs to set-up relief camps as per the standard operating procedures (SOP) prepared by the disaster management department.
Informing the reasons behind the recent record rise in the level of waters in Ganga, Nitish said there was a sharp rise in the level of its main tributary Sone in the last three days mainly due to heavy rain in its catchment areas in neighbouring Jharkhand and Madhya Pradesh. As huge amounts of water are being released in Sone from Madhya Pradesh, it has causes sudden increase in the level of Ganga. The CM said, as per reports from water resources department, another huge spell of water has been released from Bansagar Dam. “This water will reach Patna by midnight or tomorrow morning. The water level in Ganga which reduced this morning will again rise by tomorrow. In view of the expected rise in Ganga’s water level, I appeal to the people still staying in diara areas to come to the relief camps where necessary arrangement for food and lodging have been made,” Nitish said.