Hyderabad firm helps trace the missing in flood-hit Bihar

September 26th, 2008 - 11:27 am ICT by IANS  

Patna, Sep 26 (IANS) An IT firm from Hyderabad is helping the Bihar government track men, women and children who have become separated by the worst floods in the state in over 50 years, by creating a database using special software.After IT giant IBM faced difficulty in compiling the database due to lack of specific identity details, the state government is now taking the help of Hyderabad-based Safal Solutions Private Limited for the purpose.

“The government has given the job to Safal Solutions Private Limited to compile the database to track missing people as it was not possible to provide specific identity details like passport, voter identity or any identity proof to IBM,” said Arvind Chaudhary, director of the Bihar Livelihood Project.

Early this month, IBM offered help to the Bihar government by using the software that it had used successfully after the 2004 tsunami in India, Sri Lanka and Indonesia as well as during last year’s floods in Bangladesh.

Chaudhary told IANS that the government was serious about tracking the missing people and reuniting them with their families. “It is now one of the priority (areas) for us and a difficult task despite using latest technology,” Chaudhary said.

He said Safal Solutions is busy preparing a database of the complaints lodged through toll- free numbers and control rooms at the relief camps. Over 550 flood-affected families have lodged over 1,200 missing individual reports so far.

Official sources said the firm is using a two-pronged strategy to trace the people. One is the Special Sequential Search Algorithm and the other the Separated Family Connect Algorithm.

The firm is using the standard format used by the International Red Cross to trace the missing people.

Pratyaya Amrit, additional commissioner of the disaster management department, said that after evacuation and relief, tracking missing people was the government’s priority followed by rehabilitation.

He said: “The state disaster management department has opened a lost and found cell.”

The disaster management department has prepared a lost and found data sheet that was sent to all district magistrates and relief camps in flood-affected districts.

A missing people’s cell and a toll-free number to lodge complaints about the people who went missing have already been set up.

The floods have claimed at least 50 lives, according to official estimates. However, voluntary agencies fear the number could be in thousands once all bodies are recovered.

Over 3.1 million people and nearly one million cattle have been affected by the floods caused by a change in the course of the Kosi river following a breach in an embankment upstream in Nepal. About 100,000 hectares of farmland have been submerged and nearly 300,000 houses damaged.

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