PM DECLARES BIHAR FLOOD A “NATIONAL ...
PM DECLARES BIHAR FLOOD A “NATIONAL DISASTER”
Patna August 28:
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Thursday declared the floods in Bihar as “national disaster” after conducting an aerial survey of the state’s worst affected areas.
Assuring Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar of full support from the Centre, PM announced the immediate assistance of Rs 1000 crore for rescue and relief operations. He also ordered the immediate release of 1.25 lakh metric tonnes of foodgrains for the affected people.
UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi accompanied PM as the two undertook an aerial survey of the most affected districts in Bihar where the swollen Kosi river continued to wreak havoc. According to reports, Singh and Gandhi arrived at the Purnia airbase by a special IAF plane from New Delhi and took off in an IAF chopper to undertake the aerial survey in Supaul, Saharsa, Araria and Madhepura districts.
They were accompanied by Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, Railway Minister Lalu Prasad, Union Minister of State for Water Resource Jaiprakash Narain Yadav and BJP Lok Sabha members from Purnia and Araria -- Uday Singh and Sukhdeo Paswan -- respectively. Earlier, Kumar received Singh and Gandhi at the Purnia airbase and briefed them about the flood situation.
Altogether 55 persons have so far lost their lives in the current spell of floods in the state. Personnel of National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), Special Auxiliary Police (SAP), Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB), state police and the Army were engaged in the flood-hit areas to provide succour to the victims, the sources said. Over 25 lakh people in 15 districts have been hit by the impact of one of the worst floods in recent memory with victims from these four districts making up 19.78 lakh.
A total of 396 boats engaged in relief and rescue work in the four districts have so far rescued 65,539 marooned people to safer places, they said, adding the number of people rescued from all the 15 districts was over 1.2 lakh. Chief Minister Kumar, who called on Prime Minister Singh in New Delhi yesterday, had demanded an initial allocation of Rs 1,000 crore from the Centre in view of the unprecedented devastation caused by the turbulent Kosi river, which has charted a new course after breaching its embankment.
Kumar had stressed the need for an aggressive pursuit of diplomatic initiatives with Nepal for the construction of high dams and massive re-aforestation in the upper catchment area of the rivers, which would also imply the strengthening of embankments as part of long-term initiatives.
"More than 20 lakh people and their houses, including a number of townships, 242 panchayats and 671 villages which lie along the new course of the river have been inundated," he said, adding the state would immediately require one lakh metric tonne of rice for relief.