Patna: Thousands of people in Bihar, including women, children and the elderly, are forced to live under the open sky in high rise embankments and national highways, after floods inundated their villages. While the country battles with the ongoing pandemic, these people are left with no other option but to take shelter in crowded highways. All the major rivers in the state, including Koshi, Gandak and Bagmati are flowing above danger level, threatening to inundate hundreds of other villages in the coming days.
As per the state disaster management department, over 24 lakh people have been affected by floods so far. The government has evacuated 1,67,005 people from marooned villages in 11 flood affected districts. Three helicopters of Indian Air Force are airdropping relief, mainly food grains to flood victims, who were displaced.
With the weather department forecasting more heavy rains till July 30, the flood situation is likely to worsen.
Several districts like Muzaffarpur, Darbhanga, East Champaran, Supaul, Sitmarhi and Madhubani, which are among the worst affected by rains, people are have taken shelter in embankments.
“We, flood victims have taken shelter on embankments and NHs for safety following flood water forcing us to vacate our homes. We are struggling for food, drinking water and milk for our children. This is contrary to the claim made by state disaster management department that displaced floods victims have been provided relief and community kitchens are running in flood affected areas,” Mahesh Rai told NewsClick over phone. Rai, along with his family of five and his livestock, has been staying on NH 57 in Muzaffarpur.
He added, “Till the water recedes, this highway is our home. There was no other option for me and for the hundreds others who have shifted here to escape the threat to their lives.”
Also read: Bihar: Flood Situation Turns Grim After Breach in Several Embankments
Another flood victim Suresh Prasad said, “We are provided only one meal a day and they don’t help us in any other way. It is a difficult time. Continuing heavy rains have increased our miseries. We are risking our life by taking shelter here.”
Prasad’s fear reflected in the fact that a young couple, who had taken shelter on NH 527 B in Darbhanga-Jaynagar after being forced out of their home by flood, was crushed to death by a vehicle on early Tuesday morning (July 28).
The government has asked those living in vulnerable and low-lying areas to shift to safer places after water levels rose in the rivers. The government has also ordered engineers and district officials to keep a round-the-clock vigil on the situation.
Normal traffic has been disrupted on several stretches of NHs, state highways and district roads in Madhubani, Gopalganj, Darbhanga, Muzaffarpur, Sitamarhi, and East Champaran after the flood waters from rivers were flowing two to four feet above danger level.
Train services continue to be disrupted between Darbhanga and Samastipur after flood water submerged railway track at several places.
Swollen rivers breached embankments at several places in West Champaran and Muzaffarpur, inundating hundreds of new villages in different districts and posing serious threat to other villages.
Meanwhile, the state agriculture department has instructed district officials to assess the damage of standing crops including paddy, maize and vegetables, in flood affected districts and submit a report. According to an initial assessment by the department, flood has badly damaged standing crops in 5 lakh hectares.
However, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar is yet to undertake a survey of the flood-affected districts where thousands of people have been displaced and are battling for survival. Opposition leaders have criticised him for neglecting the affected people and urged him to at least survey the areas by air if not on the ground.