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Bihar’s flood and thief woes

india Updated: Sep 21, 2010 01:15 IST
Rakesh Verma

For the hundreds of marooned villagers in Bihar’s Gopalganj district, it’s not just the floods that they have to worry about. Fear of thieves is making them reluctant to abandon their homes.

The breach in the Gandak river’s embankment in Baterdah near Simaria last week had inundated more than 40 villages by Sunday.

A team of the National Disaster Response Force commenced rescue and relief operations with motorboats to help those trapped in floodwaters on Sunday.

But the villagers of Mirzapur, Alapur, Jokaha, Patari Bari, Salona and the urban areas of the Barauli Nagar village council and Kalkalha are not willing to leave their houses for fear of thieves stealing whatever valuables they would leave behind.

“We have undertaken over half-a-dozen rescue operations so far. There is a definite reluctance on part of the marooned villagers to leave their homes,” said NDRF Commander Jitendra Ringotia.

So far, the team has managed to rescue only 150 villagers. Local boatmen are also doing their bit by evacuating marooned people to safer places. There are only six relief camps in the district with over 20,000 marooned villagers. Arrangements for distributing khichdi (boiled rice and lentils) have been made at these relief camps. But many villagers don’t even know where these camps are.

“Where do we go? So far we have not been informed of any camp that has turned functional. As for the government, there is no sign of it,” said 39-year old Jitan Musahar, a resident of Mushra Toli village.

Officials are trying to set up makeshift camps at National Highway-28, which connects Gorakhpur in Uttar Pradesh to Muzaffarpur in north Bihar. The highway has been blocked as it had breached at two places.

“The camps here will be able to house close to 15,000 people when ready,” said Rajiv Ranjan, sub-divisional district officer, Gopalganj. Authorities are expecting the water level to come down marginally by Monday evening.