2.2 million hit by floods across Bihar

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Patna, July 30 (IANS) More than 2.2 million people in Bihar have been affected by floods across the state’s 10 districts, with rivers overflowing their banks, officials said on Saturday.

Vayasji, the principal secretary of state disaster management department, said the flood situation is grim in some districts following rising water level in rivers. The department has deployed officials and the National Disaster Response Force and state disaster response force to provide relief and rescue in flood-hit areas.

An official of the water resources department said nearly 1,800 villages in 49 blocks in 10 districts have been affected by floods.

“Thousands were forced to flee their homes and take shelter on high embankments, national highways, railway lines and in schools and other buildings including relief camps set up by the state government,” an official said.

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In the worst flood-hit Purnea, Kishanganj, Araria and Saharsa districts, people are fighting for survival.

Unconfirmed reports said at least 28 people, including women and children, were killed due to flood.

The state disaster management department has asked people in low-lying areas to move to higher ground, Vayasji said.

Major rivers in the state including the Kosi, Gandak, Bagmati and Ganga, are in spate following heavy rains, officials said. “With heavy rainfall in the catchment areas in neighbouring Nepal, water level of these rivers has been rising for several days.”

Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has ordered officials to survey the damage to houses, crops and other properties in the flood.

Nitish Kumar has also directed officials to speed up rescue and relief operations in the flood hit areas.

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He has asked the state health department to arrange for medicines and DDT spray to check the outbreak of diseases.

Officials said that standing crops worth crores of rupees have been damaged and road communication at several places snapped.

Bihar Water Resources Development Minister Lalan Singh said preparations have been made to tackle the flood situation. “The state government is alert. All embankments are safe,” he said.

Singh said the eastern Kosi embankment, which had breached in 2008, was safe.

In 2008, more than three million people were rendered homeless in Bihar when the Kosi river breached its banks upstream in Nepal and changed course.

Official sources said engineers of the water resource department have been directed to keep a vigil on the vulnerable embankments.

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