Army personnel and other government agencies are facing a new challenge in flood-ravaged Bihar to convince marooned people to evacuate without delay.
Eighteen days after floods hit the state, hundreds of thousands of people are still trapped and delay in their evacuation is giving sleepless nights to officials.
“It is a big task to evacuate all those who are reluctant and refuse to move out to safe places,” said an official of the state disaster management department here.
The turbulent Kosi river continues to pose a threat to lives of people still trapped in Bihar's worst floods in over 50 years.
In view of this fear, the state government has appealed to all people, who have refused to move out of their homes, to evacuate immediately.
The government made a fresh appeal after army personnel and other officials involved in evacuation informed that hundreds of marooned people were not ready to move to safe places.
”Hundreds of people said that they do not want to be evacuated and made it clear that they want to stay back in the worst flood hit districts of Madhepura, Supaul, Saharsa,” said Pratyay Amrit, additional commissioner of disaster management department.
Brig P.S. Rathi, commandant of Bihar Regimental Centre here, said that he was shocked when people refused to accompany the rescue team to a safe place and only wanted food.
“I along with a rescue team reached Madhopur village in Supaul district where over 200 people were stranded. They refused even after we pleaded with them to move with us,” said Rathi.
He said he had gone with seven boats fitted with outboard motors to evacuate people but came back with just five people.
The state government asked the defence forces including army, navy and air force as well as the national disaster response force, engaged in rescue operation to expedite the evacuation process.
The government plans to airdrop printed appeals in the worst affected blocks where people refused to move out. "The appeal will be made to cooperate with the government agencies to ensure full evacuation,“ official sources said.
Officials of the disaster management department said that there was a strong possibility of increase in the water level of the Kosi river till first week of October.
"It is an accepted fact that the Kosi river has unpredictable nature and has a history of being in spate till October each year," said an official.
Kumar said altogether 256 relief centres were working round the clock to provide food and other essentials to the flood victims.
The flood situation in Bihar, triggered by the surging waters of the Kosi river, continued to be grave with hundreds of villages under water, millions displaced and many still crying for rescue.
"There is no let up in the flood situation. It has spread to new areas and the water is not receding. But relief and rescue operations are going on in a big way," an official of the state disaster management department said here.
The floods have claimed 50 lives, according to official estimates. Over 2.5 million people and 925,000 cattle have been affected.
Several Bihar districts were flooded by the swirling waters of the Kosi river following a breach in an embankment upstream in Nepal.
According to official sources, so far 7,698,900 people had been evacuated from over 989 villages of five districts by government agencies in last 15 days with the help of army, navy and air force.
"Over 275,000 people are staying in nearly over 250 relief camps in the areas," an official said.
The floodwaters have submerged about 100,000 hectares of farmland.