Patna: It may come as a surprise, but the fact is that there are only six functional relief camps for more than 8 million flood-affected people in Bihar.
The Opposition parties including the Left parties and activists have questioned the state government’s seriousness in providing help to the flood victims in the 16 flood-hit districts in the state.
As per the latest official data released by the state Disaster Management Department, 8.1 million (81,67,671) people have been affected by the floods. But there are only six relief camps in which 5,198 flood victims are staying. The official data are totally silent over the whereabouts of thousands of flood victims who were displaced after flood water inundated their homes and villages.
The official data stated that till August 4, there were 17 functional flood relief camps. But the department, in its August 5 update, mentioned only eight relief camps housing 12,202 flood victims.
However, there are reports that amid a worsening pandemic – with Bihar registering 1,12,759 COVID-19 cases – thousands of flood victims have taken shelter on high-rise embankments, national highways and in government schools. Last month, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar had asked the concerned officials to test flood victims to detect and identify COVID-19 cases to control the spread of virus in rural areas.
According to the department, the government has evacuated 5,50,792 people till date from marooned villages. About 27 teams of NDRF and SDRF are engaged in relief and rescue operations in view of the increasing devastation caused by the floods. There have been at least 25 deaths due to the floods.
In this context, CPI(M) state secretary Avadesh Kumar said that such a small number of relief camps for the flood victims itself has exposed the government’s neglect of people’s suffering and pain. “It is shocking that as per the government’s own data, 130 blocks and 1,317 panchayats have been affected by the floods, but there are only half a dozen relief camps. This is an example of an insensitive government.”
CPI(ML) leader Dhirendar Jha said that the NDA government led by Nitish Kumar is hell bent on holding the next Bihar Assembly elections in October-November, as it has no concern for the flood victims. “There should be hundreds of relief camps to help them stay safe and so that food can be provided to them. But the government is busy in preparation of elections and has left flood victims to struggle for survival and take care of themselves.”
Jha said that in view of the flood disaster amid COVID-19, the party has demanded that the government disburse without delay Rs 25,000 as relief, dry food packets and drinking water to all the families from inundated villages as well as adequate supply of fodder for the cattle and boats for those who have taken shelter in higher areas.
Congress MLA Shakeel Ahmad Khan said, “I am working day and night to help the flood victims and am doing everything to minimise their miseries.”
RJD leader Ramanujan Prasad claimed that CM Nitish Kumar’s focus is on the next polls and not on flood victims. “Flood victims have been protesting against the lack of relief, drinking water, and boats, contrary to the government claims.”
Ranjeev, an environmental activist, said with the state Assembly elections scheduled later this year, the government is trying to woo flood-affected families by announcing a provision of Rs 6,000 for them – a strategy to attract voters. “It is easy for the government to distribute an amount to flood victims rather than doing anything concrete to deal with the annual floods,” he said.
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