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Negligence, inexperience led to Kosi tragedy in 2008

The National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) set up after the 2004 tsunami to help deal with disasters is practically headless and has vacancies in key posts.
Hindustan Times | By Anirban Guha Roy and Subhash Pathak, New Delhi
UPDATED ON AUG 03, 2014 12:24 AM IST

Bihar government’s negligence and posting of inexperienced officers at the site led to the state’s worst ever flood tragedy- the Kosi deluge, which killed 534 persons in August 2008, the Kosi judicial commission has said.

Justice Balia’s report, which has taken almost six years to emerge, has also raised serious questions on the work ethics of water resources department (WRD) officials and those manning the high level committees of Ganga flood control commission, Kosi high level committee and other subcommittees, responsible for implementing sanctioned works for flood control.

The crux of the two part voluminous report running into 2,066 pages and submitted by the Kosi Judicial Enquiry Commission headed by former chief justice of Patna high court, Rajesh Balia, which was laid in the state assembly on Friday, has also blamed the then engineer-in chief of Birpur, Satya Narayan for mis-handling the flood protection effort and the lack of communication between the authorities in India and Nepal as other reasons for the deluge. An action taken report has also been laid suggesting to the government to form a technical team to look into the recommendations.

The report says, “The whole task force at the site in question during the most crucial period of the flood fighting operation appeared to be leaderless. Officers of the flying squad did not have flood fighting experience.”

The commission has also found serious discrepancy in the purchase and use of materials for flood fighting like boulders and craters.

The report said against demand for Rs 10 crore for anti- erosion works, only Rs 2 crore was released.

Anti-flood protection works suffered due to lack of co-ordination between state and Nepal government has been also underlined in the Balia report.

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