Patna: Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar finally conducted an aerial survey of flood-affected areas on Wednesday, more than two weeks after parts of the floods were ravaged by floods.
Nine bodies were recovered a day after a boat capsized in the Gandak river in Khagaria district. Search operations for missing persons continued on Wednesday. Khagaria district magistrate Alok Ranjan Ghosh said a State Disaster Response Fund (SDRF) team recovered nine bodies but it is feared that more than two dozen passengers on the boat drowned.
Given the grim situation in the state since the third week of July, the CM was criticised by the opposition, including Left parties, for not undertaking an aerial survey of flood-affected areas. Nitish Kumar finally carried out an aerial survey on August 5.
This is the first aerial survey of flood-affected areas by Nitish Kumar this year – the delay resulted in raised eyebrows. Kumar also visited a flood relief camp and a community kitchen for flood victims in Darbhanga, one of the districts worst affected by floods.
Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader Arun Kumar Mishra said the Chief Minister had no time for flood victims till August 4, as he was busy with election preparations for the Janata Dal-United. “Nitish Kumar is more keen on preparations for the elections. He is not concerned about flood victims and their miseries; it is reflected in the fact that he undertook an aerial survey only after the number of flood victims crossed six millions,” he added.
After senior Rashtriya Janata Dal leader Bhai Virendra raised it last month, Bihar opposition leader Tejashwi Yadav repeatedly appealed to the CM to conduct an aerial survey of the flood-affected areas. However, Nitish Kumar ignored the advice.
Before disaster hit the state, the CM had visited the flood-prone Madhubani district on June 24 to review the preparedness of flood control measures which had been delayed due to the lockdown in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. He since remained confined to his residence.
According to Bihar’s Water Resources Department, all the major rivers in the state including Koshi, Gandak, Bagmati, Burhi Gandak, Adhwara are flowing above the danger mark.
The local weather department has forecasted more heavy rains in the next 24 hours and the situation is likely to worsen.
Amid a worsening pandemic – with Bihar at 62,031 COVID-19 cases – thousands of flood victims have taken shelter on high-rise embankments, national highways and in relief camps. Even an aerial survey by the CM would give a fillip to their hopes.
More than six million people have been affected by floods in 16 districts of Bihar. According to the official data of the Disaster Management Department, 63,60,424 people have been affected by floods in the state as of Tuesday night. The government has evacuated 4,40,507 people from marooned villages till date.
About 33 teams of the NDRF and the SDRF have been pressed into relief and rescue operations in view of the increasing devastation of the floods. According to official figures, there have been 19 deaths due to floods.
According to official figures of the WRD, Bihar is the most flood-affected state in India, accounting for close to 17.2% of the total flood-prone area in the country. Out of its area of 94.16 lakh hectares, 68.80 lakh hectares (76% of North Bihar and 73% of South Bihar) is flood-prone. At present, 28 out of 38 districts in the state are flood-prone.