With 15 million people displaced and at least 200 dead in floods, it was a solemn Independence Day in Bihar on Wednesday, and Chief Minister Nitish Kumar took care to focus on the disaster in his address to the people as he promised to look for a permanent solution.
With a Maoist threat to disrupt the celebrations looming large, the chief minister hoisted the national flag at the historic Gandhi Maidan in Patna at an event attended by hundreds of people, notwithstanding several areas in the city being waterlogged due to the rains.
In his 30-minute speech in Hindi, Nitish Kumar highlighted the problems of floods that had affected 15 million people in 19 of the state's 38 districts.
Vowing to speed up efforts for a permanent solution, he said he had urged the central government to take up the issue with neighbouring Nepal to build a high dam to check and control the floods that had submerged much of northern Bihar.
He claimed that the state government was doing everything to ensure distribution of relief to the flood victims.
Promising to develop Bihar by 2015, Nitish Kumar asserted that his motto was not to rule but serve the state. In his speech, he promised not to discriminate against any section and maintain social and communal harmony.
Sources in the state home department said security had been tightened for peaceful Independence Day celebrations across the state in view of the Maoist threat.
All police stations were put on high alert and additional security forces deployed at vital installations like railway stations, airports, power generation units, refineries and government offices.
Bihar police spokesperson Anil Sinha said patrolling had been intensified in all Maoist affected districts in view of the boycott call of Independence Day.