Unusual torrential rainfall in catchment areas in Nepal and subsequent massive discharge of water in rivers led to flash floods in Bihar where 25 people have lost their lives in the last few days while more than one lakh people have been evacuated, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar told the Assembly on Tuesday. A total of 25.72 lakh people have been affected by the natural calamity so far, he said.
In a statement, Kumar said floods normally struck north Bihar in August or, sometimes, in September, but this time they came a month earlier primarily because of unusually heavy rainfall in the Terai region of the neighbouring country. For the last three-four days, the Terai region of Nepal has been lashed by rainfalls ranging between 280-300 mm which was many times higher than the 50 mm which is considered normal for the area during this time of the year.
As a result, several rivers in Bihar like Kosi, Bagmati and Mahananda have been in spate, the Chief Minister said in the House. Twelve districts Madhubani, Sitamarhi, Sheohar, East and West Champaran, Supaul, Darbhanga, Muzaffarpur Katihar, Purnea, Kishanganj and Araria have been affected by the floods, the CM added. He cited the example of the catchment area for Kamala river in Nepal which received 203.60-319.80 mm of rainfall on July 12 -13. This led to a massive discharge of water in the river which passes through Jayanagar in Madhubani district.
Water has inundated a road bridge in Jayanagar while in Jhanjharpur water level at a rail bridge has reached 54.50 metres, which is higher than the all-time record of 54.34 registered in 1987. The Kamala Balan embankment has been breached at six places, affecting several blocks of Madhubani and Darbhanga districts. Water level in the Bagmati has broken previous records at several places affecting people in Sheohar, Sitamarhi and Muzaffarpur districts. All embankments along the Bagmati have, however, so far remained unharmed, he added.
Besides, a dam over Khiroi river burst in Darbhanga district affecting many villages. Excessive water discharge in Mahananda has inundated large parts of Kishanganj district. All embankments in the Mahananda basin are, however, secure till now, Kumar added. Till 10 am Tuesday, 25 people have died in the floods and instructions have been issued for prompt payment of ex-gratia to the next of their kin, he said. The flood-hit area covers 555 Panchayats of 78 blocks spread across these districts. Rescue work is being carried out by 796 personnel equipped with 125 motor boats.
Besides 26 teams of NDRF and SDRF are engaged in the rescue operations and so far 1.25 lakh people have been evacuated from the marooned areas, the Chief Minister said. For those displaced by floods, 199 relief camps have been set up which are at present inhabited by 1.16 lakh people. Their food is being prepared at 676 community kitchens.
Instructions are in place for setting up more relief camps and community kitchens if such a need arises, he added. Good quality of food and drinking water is being ensured and so is availability of bleaching powder and chlorine tablets, ORS and anti-diarrhea drugs, 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 that has been caused so that rebuilding programme 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 added.
The CM said his office as well those of Chief Secretary Deepak Kumar and Disaster Management Department headed by Pratayay Amrit are monitoring the floods situation round-the-clock.