Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Thursday described the floods in Bihar as a “national calamity” and announced an immediate financial assistance of Rs 1,000 crore for rescue and relief operations.
The Prime Minister did an aerial survey of the flood-hit areas with UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi, some Union Ministers and Chief Minister Nitish Kumar.
“If there is a need for more, we will give more,” he told reporters. “We would like to assure the people of Bihar that all India will support them through this difficulty.”
“I thank him for the help provided by the Centre,” Chief Minister Nitish Kumar said appealing for ‘generous help’ from all quarters.
The Kosi breached its banks 10 days ago on the border with Nepal, flowing through a channel it had previously abandoned.
Brahmdeo Yadav’s village in badly hit Saharsa district was reduced to an island surrounded by murky water.
“We have nothing to cook with so we are soaking grain into this filth and trying to survive,” Yadav, a farmer, told an AFP correspondent.
The district’s tiny rail station was packed on Thursday with thousands of flood victims desperate to get on one of the few passenger trains still operating.
“We just want to get out. We want to leave this curse behind,” wept Girija Prasad, a housewife whose husband, Narayan, is missing. She was rescued by a military motorboat on Wednesday.
“About 90,000 victims have been evacuated by government rescue agencies,” disaster management official Prataya Amrit told AFP.
And some people helped themselves, such as the inmates of Birpur Jail in Supaul district. Taking advantage of the flood, a number of prisoners escaped. But four of them returned later. Life in jail was better.
(With agency inputs)