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People refuse to leave flood-hit areas says NDRF

NDRF says villagers in flood-hit areas in Assam worry over losing cattle, belongings and ignore help from relief officials.

india Updated: Aug 16, 2017 17:10 IST
Azaan Javaid
Azaan Javaid
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Assam Floods,Bihar Floods,NDRF
Villagers take shelter at a partially submerged house following floods at Baghmari village in Nagaon district, in the northeastern state of Assam, India August 15, 2017. (REUTERS Photo)

The National Disaster Response Force (NDRF),which is currently tackling floods in four states of the country, is facing trouble with getting people to evacuate from their homes, a problem which some officials say can prove to be “the most challenging to solve”.

Officials say there are four major reasons cited by people or families refusing to be evacuated.

The first is the fear of loosing valuables followed by the possibility of their cattle drowning. In some instances, people have been reluctant because in the past, flood forecasts have been proven wrong. This reluctance is commonly seen in people who belong to economically weaker sections.

While NDRF officials maintain that such reluctant people form a very small minority, the situation presents a potential for an increase in causalities in rural India especially because floods are a regular occurrence in several states of the country.

Read more | Picture this: Flooded Assam school’s teachers, students salute tricolour

According to an NDRF analysis of Bihar, annual flooding in the state accounts for about 30-40% of the flood damages in India; 22.1% of the total flood affected population in India is reported to be in Bihar.

The analysis adds that 28 districts of the state are classified under the ‘most flood prone’ and ‘flood prone’ categories.

The state’s topography is marked by a number of perennial and non-perennial rivers of which, those originating from Nepal are known to carry high sediment loads that are then deposited on the plains of Bihar.

During the ongoing floods in the state, nearly twenty lakh people have been affected.

The worst-hit districts in the state are Kishanganj, Araria, Purnea Katihar Darbhanga, Madhubani, Sitamarhi, Madhepura, Saharsa, Supaul, East and West Champaran.

But Bihar is not alone in facing the brunt of monsoon floods.This season, NDRF teams have evacuated or rescued more than 28,950 people and provided medical assistance to 3,529 people across Assam, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, and West Bengal and Rajasthan.

A total of 107 NDRF teams have been deployed throughout these states that are witnessing a deluge of rainfall that has left large swathes of land under water. The figure includes teams that have been pre-positioned at 75 locations.

Even this season, a number of instances were recorded where officials had to spend time convincing people to leave their residence and/or belongings ahead of the floods and travel to safer bases. In Assam where 18 NDRF teams are deployed, people in villages of Majoli and Jonai resisted the emergency relief body’s pleas to leave their place of residence. In Bihar, people from villages of Bharathua, Chainpur, Hanuman Nagar and Mahavir Tola have also refused to be evacuated.

“A majority of the rainfall in this region is concentrated in the three months of monsoon during which the flow of rivers increases up to 50 times causing floods in Bihar. 68,800 sq km out of a total area of 94,160 sq km — an estimated 73% per cent of the total land area in Bihar — is vulnerable to flooding” the NDRF analysis reads.

“We have managed the situation but it takes a lot of patience and effort to convince the families to come to safer bases with us,” said Krishnan Kumar, PRO, NDRF.

Officials say that the last thing that they want to do is to use force against people.

“For people who refuse all our attempts all that we can do is to try to keep a close watch on them, offer medicines and food,” an official told Hindustan Times.

First Published: Aug 15, 2017 22:50 IST