Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar briefed Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday about the flood situation in the state and urged him to consider dismantling the Farakka barrage -- constructed under an Indo-Bangladesh treaty -- which he said was behind the increasing silt in the Ganga’s riverbed.
A bed full of silt makes a river grow prone to flooding.
Kumar said Bihar would continue to face the problem of floods due to heavy siltation from rivers, including the Ganga, and insisted the Centre must formulate a national siltation management policy.
“We are carrying the relief and rescue operations in flood-hit areas. The Centre has assured all assistance. The damage done by the floods will be assessed and then we will take steps accordingly. The Prime Minister has assured all help,” Kumar said after meeting Modi in New Delhi.
Kumar told Modi that the present flood situation in 12 districts of Bihar was the result of excessive discharge from Bansagar (Madhya Pradesh) and Rihand (Uttar Pradesh) dams due to torrential rainfall. The water flowing downstream into River Ganga had forced the state to face the brunt of floods for decades, he said.
“There should be a national silt policy so that de-siltation in rivers, including the Ganga, could be carried out, so that the river has a higher water retention capacity. Unless that happens, Bihar would be forced to face the brunt of floods,” Kumar said.
Around 10 lakh people have been affected by the latest floods due to the swollen Ganga and its tributaries, leaving thousands marooned, especially those living in riverside areas in districts of Patna, Begusarai, Khagaria, Katihar and Vaishali.
Kumat told Modi that the current situation was alarming since the state was still 14% rain deficient this monsoon season and had not received more than 1,000mm rainfall in the past one decade.
“Bihar has only received 615mm rains against 719.9mm rains for normal monsoon. There is still 14% deficiency, with 152 blocks receiving less than 40% rains, which has also affected the Kharif crop of paddy and maize,” he said.
He urged the PM to send a team of scientists and experts to study the siltation problem in the Ganga.