Bihar flood toll at 33, CM Nitish Kumar says Rs 6,000 aid to each affected family
Bihar CM Nitish Kumar’s statement on floods came a day after the opposition parties led by RJD accused the government for failing to tackle the flood situation in the state and not providing relief to the marooned people.Updated: Jul 17, 2019 01:25 IST
With recovery of nine more bodies, the death toll due to floods in Bihar reached 33 on Tuesday, even as chief minister Nitish Kumar announced that the state government would start disbursing Rs 6,000 as gratuitous relief to each family affected by the deluge through direct benefit transfer (DBT) from Friday onwards.
Making the announcement in the state assembly earlier in the day, chief minister Nitish Kumar said inundation of large parts of north Bihar was due to flash floods caused by heavy rains in Nepal in the last one week, leading to rivers originating from the Himalayan nation swelling up.
“Funds would not be an impediment for giving assistance to flood victims as people affected by natural disasters have the first right on the state coffers,” he said, adding that the DBT method of disbursing assistance to families was adopted as there were complaints of delayed payments due to formalities at the bank level.
Talking to reporters later, Kumar said the state government had spent Rs 2,400 crore in providing gratuitous relief during the 2017 floods but lamented that the Centre had not increased its allocation under National Disaster Relief Fund (NDRF) despite the matter being taken up regularly at highest bodies like Niti Aayog and Finance Commission. “Bihar gets hit by disaster, be it floods or drought, every year but we do not get adequate funds. The state only got Rs 500 crore in 2017 floods,” he said.
The CM’s statement on floods came a day after the opposition parties led by RJD accused the government for failing to tackle the flood situation in the state and not providing relief to the marooned people.
“We have taken immediate steps for relief, rescue and rehabilitation and are committed to tackling the floods. We are also ready for any situation that may occur in August when the state usually experiences floods. All DMs have been instructed to be alert to carry relief and rescue work, whenever needed,” Kumar said.
Meanwhile, flood waters entered two more blocks of Katihar and Madhubani districts on Tuesday, even as the discharge in the upstream of rivers originating from Nepal generally maintained a steady trend.
Talking to media persons later, chief secretary Deepak Kumar said flood waters of Gandak and Burhi Gandak had spread to fresh areas of Muzaffarpur, Samastipur and Champaran districts and special teams of flood experts would be dispatched to affected areas to step up rescue and relief operations.
The CM also undertook an aerial survey to the flooded areas of Gandak in East and West Champaran.
The disaster management department (DMD), meanwhile, has set up 221 relief camps in the worst affected districts. As many as 174 camps have been set up in Sitamarhi alone, while 748 community centres are working to feed the marooned people. A total of 26 contingents of SDRF, NDRF and SSB have been pressed into service to rescue the stranded people.
Although Bagmati and Adhwara group of rivers continued to flow metres above the danger mark, they started maintaining a receding trend. Flood situation in Sitamarhi, however, remained unabated and road traffic on Sitamarhi-Nepal via Raxaul could not be restored as yet.
According to the DMD reports, Sitamarhi witnessed the maximum fatalities of 11, while nine persons died in Araria, seven in Sheohar, four in Kishanganj and two bodies were recovered in Supaul, which is facing the fury of Kosi.
Apparently disappointed by the government’s claim of rescue and relief operation, Congress leaders, including state unit chief Madan Mohan Jha, met the marooned people in Darbhanga, Madhubani, Sitamarhi and Katihar districts and distributed relief material. They have also set up relief camps in the districts and kept feeding those living the camps.