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Trudging to safety

india Updated: Aug 29, 2008 23:50 IST
Vijay Swaroop
Vijay Swaroop
Hindustan Times
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The migration of flood victims is still continuing, although the Bihar government claims that over two lakh people have so far been evacuated.

It’s feared that the catastrophe may even change the demographic profile of the area. “We cannot say where the people are exactly moving. But as of now, many of them have shifted to Khagaria, Purnia, Saharsa, Patna and even Kolkata and other districts of West Bengal,” said Additional Commissioner, disaster management department, Prataya Amrit.

The Railways has already started running ‘flood special’ trains to transport people to safe destinations. The state government has sent requests for two more columns of Army. “One column each has reached Madhepura, Araria, and Supaul, while two more are on their way,” said Amrit.

Several people are still living on embankments, which are not at all safe. Sources said nearly 400 people were trapped on the embankment at Birpur. The situation at Madhepura is no better with reports of a breach in the Shanjar Belari embankment on the Balua river.

Meanwhile, the flood victims are being robbed at almost every shelter in the affected areas. Villagers say that even those engaged in rescue operations during the day return to loot in the night. “As they are aware of the places where flood victims have been shifted, it is easy for the rescuers to trace the victims at night. They have also specific information about the victims’ belongings,” a villager said.

Reports from Katihar, another flood-affected district, said incidents of robbery and loot were reported from Bhawanipur, Sitapur, Kishanpur and other villages. When contacted, ADG, Darbhanga zone, A.C. Verma, said he had no information about any such incident.

Chief Minister Nitish Kumar recently warned of stern action against anti-socials operating in the flood-affected areas. “I have directed the police chiefs concerned to take strict action against them and deploy more force to stop such incidents,” he said.

(With inputs from Ramashankar, Amitabh Jha & Ghanshyam Yadav)