Even as central ministers and Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) president Rajeev Chandrasekhar joined a growing list of donors to help lakhs of people survive the flood in Bihar, the state government told the Centre it had almost completed the evacuation process.
The state government told Union Home Secretary Madhukar Gupta at a review meeting on Friday that all of the targeted 10 lakh people, except 25,000 people who have refused to move out of their villages, had moved out to safer places on their own or had been evacuated by rescue workers.
In light of the state’s assessment, the home secretary told senior central and state government officials to focus on the rehabilitation and rebuilding process, since the firefighting part of the crisis seemed over.
Gupta also told the Bihar government and Water Resources Ministry to expedite the plugging of the breached portion of the embankment on the Kosi. Officials said this would be a painfully long process that could do with some help from the public and private sectors.
Ministers give day’s salary
At Thursday’s Cabinet meeting, central ministers decided to contribute a month’s salary for relief work. Chandrasekhar, a Rajya Sabha MP from Karnataka, has chipped in with a donation of Rs 1 crore as a personal contribution and initiated efforts to raise further resources and support.
The FICCI president has also asked executive committee and associate members to participate in the massive relief operation. FICCI Socio Economic Development Foundation, which had lent a helping hand at the time of the Gujarat earthquake, would lead a major programme of immediate relief and future rehabilitation of the Bihar flood victims. FICCI and CARE had managed to collect $20 million for the earthquake victims.
Relief camps for 6-9 weeks
According to the Home Ministry’s assessment, the state will have to run relief camps for nearly six to nine months. These would house nearly seven lakh people, up from the three lakh living in camps today. Besides, it would need to take up reconstruction work of basic infrastructure like roads.
Rs 1,600-cr rehab scheme
Union Rural Development Minister Raghuvansh Prasad Singh announced Rs 1,600-crore assistance to the state under various programmes for schemes relating to water, the construction of 58,000 houses for the poor and the reconstruction of nearly 2,000 km of rural roads.
The ministry has also decided to modify rules under the rural employment guarantee scheme to provide employment to displaced people in the areas of their temporary settlement.
Probe breach: Minister
Singh also demanded a high-level inquiry into the breach in the Kosi embankment. “The inquiry should look into the causes of the devastating flood. People want to know what preventive measures the state government took. The guilty officials should be punished,” he said.