Bihar flood fury, 20 lakh affected

Patna: The flood situation in Bihar worsened on Monday, with many rivers breaching their banks and embankments and affecting nearly two million people, officials said.

The government has launched massive relief and rescue operations with help from the Army, Air Force as well as National Disaster Response Force and Bihar State Disaster Response Force teams in the 14 flood-hit districts.

"We are evacuating people to safer places. It is our priority for now because thousands are stranded," said Pratyaya Amrit, Principal Secretary in the Bihar Disaster Management Department.

Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, after an aerial survey of the flooded districts, said he had told officials to speed up rescue and relief work. 

"It is like a flash flood situation after heavy rains in the last three days. Relief and rescue operations are going on in full swing," he said.

Nitish Kumar said he had asked the district magistrates of the worst-hit districts to conduct aerial survey and work on a strategy to reach out to the affected people. "It will take time for the flood waters to recede from villages."

According to the Bihar Disaster Management Department, nearly two million people have been affected by the floods, including thousands who have been forced to flee their homes.

In the last two days, nearly one million people have been displaced in Kishanganj, Araria, Purnea and Katihar districts.

"Thousands were displaced as their villages got inundated," a Kishanganj district official said.

Other affected districts are Darbhanga, Madhubani, Sitamarhi, Madhepura, Saharsa, Supaul as well as East and West Champaran.

The Bihar State Disaster Management Department has asked people living in low-lying areas to move to higher places as heavy rains continue.

"The flood situation in Bihar will continue to be grim for some time due to rising water levels in rivers and incessant rains," a department official said.

So far, 10 persons, including women and children, have been killed in the floods.

Major rivers in the state including the Koshi, Mahananda, Gandak, Bagmati and the Ganga are in spate, according to officials.

"With heavy rainfall in the catchment areas in Nepal, water levels in these rivers have been rising for the past several days," one officer told IANS.

Nitish Kumar has requested Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh to provide all possible help.

His office said an 80-member team from the Bihar Regiment rushed to Kishanganj and Araria districts on Sunday evening. More soldiers joined them on Monday.

Railway stations in Kishanganj, Katihar and Jogbani in Araria were flooded, leaving scores of passengers stranded. Eighteen trains have been cancelled since Sunday.

According to officials, crops worth crores have been damaged and road links to several places snapped.

Reports reaching here said flood waters had submerged NH 104 in Sitamarhi, NH 31 in Kishanganj and NH 327 in Araria. Road traffic has been cut in these districts.