UN aid agencies rush to flood-hit Bihar, Nepal

August 29th, 2008 - 3:43 pm ICT by ANI  

Manmohan Singh

New Delhi/Patna, Aug 29 (ANI): With incessant rains lashing catchment areas of the Kosi River, leading to dramatic rise in water levels has prompted the United Nations to rush its agencies to aid the government and independent bodies working to provide relief to flood victims both in India and Nepal.
A UN Children’’s Fund (UNICEF) official, Patrick McCormick, said the world body has joined in the rescue and rehabilitation efforts in Bihar and Nepal.
About 1, 25, 000 marooned people have been evacuated so far in 11 districts of Bihar, the bulk of them by government boats and many on their own. Four helicopters and 200 country boats are working overtime to ferry the men and material to safe destinations.
Acres of human habitation and farmlands have been submerged by the waters of the Kosi river. Almost half of Madhepura town is under water. Over ten lakh people are still trapped between the old and the new stream of the river.
Relief and rescue operations have been hampered by inclement weather. The Army is on alert for a possible worsening of the flood situation in Bihar.
Meanwhile, an all-party meeting is to review the flood situation in Bihar with Chief Minister Nitish Kumar in Patna today.
Prior to the meeting, Kumar has urged all political parties to refrain from politicising the matter.
Describing the Bihar flood situation as grim the Chief Minister said: This is not the time to play politics on the issue. I know this is the year of elections. Therefore, people are out to make comments for political reasons.
The all-party meet comes a day after Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh announced the immediate release of Rs 1,000-crore as flood relief for the state. He also announced the immediate release of 1.25 lakh metric tons of foodgrain for affected people.
According to the Central Water Commission, the rivers Kosi, Ganga, Ghaghra, Punpun and Burhi Gandak are flowing above the danger mark at several places along their respective courses.
The flood has affected 15 districts — Muzaffarpur, Patna, Katihar, Nalanda, West Champaran, Khagaria Sheikhpura, Purnia, Saran, Begusarai, Bhagalpur, Supaul, Saharsa, Madhepura and Araria in the state.
Meanwhile, some 55,000 Nepalese have been uprooted on the other side of the river, and UN agencies are mobilizing aid to assist the displaced.
The UNICEF said roads have been damaged, while water and electricity have been disrupted. As railway tracks have been submerged, food and other essential supplies are being transported by boat. It warned that camps housing the displaced could become overcrowded, increasing likelihood of communicable diseases. (ANI)

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