(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
August 31 , 2008
Bihar Floods: CPI(M) Urges Relief On War Footing
BIHAR is facing a very serious and grim situation with the Kosi river continuing to unleash its fury in Bihar districts bordering Nepal, badly affecting over 20 lakh people in the state. The worst-affected were villages in the districts of Supaul, Araria, Saharsa, Purnea, Katihar and Madhepura where more than 12 lakh people were hit by the floods caused by the breach in the east Kosi embankment in Nepal on August 18.
The All India Kisan Sabha has expressed serious concern over this situation and demanded from both the central and state governments immediate steps to provide people urgent relief. AIKS joint secretary N K Shukla, who is touring the flood-affected areas, has called on both the governments to stop blaming each other for inaction and come to the rescue of lakhs of marooned people. Meanwhile CPI(M) Central Secretariat member and MP Hannan Mollah has urged the prime minister to take special note of the grim flood situation in Bihar and take immediate steps so that rescue and relief operations are taken up effectively. He asked for releasing of fund from the National Calamity Fund immediately.
The cadres of AIKS and other mass organisations in the affected regions are fully involved in providing whatever relief is possible to the people. Led by AIKS Bihar state secretary Avdesh Kumar and MLC Balram Yadav, Ganesh Manav and others, the cadres are participating in flood relief efforts. In Saharsa a huge street collection was organised by mass organisations on August 26 and the money and supplies collected were immediately distributed among the affected people. AIKS leader N K Shukla said that the water level was rising like tsunami in north-east Bihar and that thousands of boats, hundreds of army helicopters were needed urgently for saving the lives of lakhs of people being submerged by water. He said given the grim situation, the central government must declare it as a national disaster.
According to the Central Water Commission, the Kosi, Ganga, Ghaghra, Punpun and Burhi Gandak were flowing above the danger level at several places along their course. The Bihar government has constituted a technical committee, headed by retired engineer-in-chief of the water resource department Nilendu Sanyal to supervise the restoration work and closure of the breach in the East Kosi afflux embankment. So far, according to official estimates 42 people have died in the floods in Bihar.
HANNAN MOLLAH WRITES TO PM
In a letter to prime minister Dr Manmohan Singh on August 26, Hannan Mollah conveyed the very serious and alarming news pouring in from different submerged districts of Bihar. “Due to washing away of 3.5 km embankment of Kosi river in Nepal, unprecedented sudden flood was caused in large parts of Bihar. About 30 lakh people of Purnia, Katihar, Saharsa, Supoul, Araria, Madhubani and some other districts are almost under water. There is apprehension of large number of deaths in Supoul and other districts. Due to suddenness of the flood many people could not come out safely. Thousands of cattle and properties worth crores of rupees are destroyed. The rescue operation is very poor. During last years flood, I visited a couple of districts and not a single boat was found. I met the chief minister and requested to keep large number of boasts for the future. But unfortunately the information from all those districts now also is that there are no boats available for rescue operations”, he pointed out.
In such a situation, the CPI(M) MP asked the prime minister to see that the rescue work is taken up on a war footing and the central government must provide army boats for this purpose.
Pointing out that floods of such nature are almost regular every year due to excess rain in Nepal and despite raising with the government of Nepal repeatedly, no action is being taken up for a permanent solution, Hannan Mollah demanded that the central government should take up this matter more seriously.