Flood waters enter over 1,000 Bihar villages



Patna: Flood waters have entered over 1,000 villages in Bihar, forcing people to abandon their homes, even as rising water levels of most rivers posed a threat to many other villages, officials said Saturday. Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has ordered speedy relief work.

All the inundated villages are in flood-prone districts of Bhagalpur, Muzaffarpur, Gopalganj, Araria, Purnia, Saharsa, Darbhanga, Madhepura and Bagaha, officials said.

"Flood waters entered more than 700 villages of Aurai block in Muzaffarpur. In Bhagalpur, more than 200 villages were inundated, while dozens of villages were flooded in Madhepura, Araria and Purnia," an official of the state disaster management department said.

A water resources department official said: "Water entered these villages after levels rose in all the major rivers following heavy rains in the state and the catchment areas of Nepal."

According to the Central Water Commission, the water level in the Ganges crossed the danger mark at several places. Similarly, the Kosi was flowing above the danger mark and the Mahananda at other places.

Taking note of worsening flood situation in the state, Nitish Kumar has directed Chief Secretary Anup Mukharjee to speed up relief and rescue operations, an official said.

"The chief minister has asked top officials to ensure all possible help to flood victims," said an official in chief minister's office.

An official said that standing crops worth crores of rupees have been damaged and road communication at several places has been snapped. "Paddy cultivation has been badly hit... standing banana and maize crops in Bhagalpur and other districts have been destroyed," he said.

Officials said that after two consecutive years of drought, the fear of a major flood was back in Bihar with incessant rains and heavy water discharge into the Kosi river from Nepal.

However, Bihar Water Resources Development Minister Vijay Kumar Choudhary said all embankments were safe and there was no need to panic.

In view of the worsening flood situation, five teams of the National Disaster Response Force have been deployed in five flood-hit districts.

Reports suggested that hundreds of people have been asked to shift to safer areas by the authorities.

The state government asked engineers and district officials to keep a 24-hour vigil.

Choudhary said the eastern Kosi embankment, which had breached in 2008, flooding five districts of northern Bihar, was totally safe. "We are taking care of it. There is no need to panic."

In 2008, over three million people were rendered homeless in Bihar when the Kosi river breached its bank upstream in Nepal and changed course. It was said to be the worst flood in the state in the last 50 years.

IANS