Acute tent shortage for Bihar relief operation: Army

September 4th, 2008 - 4:07 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Sep 4 (IANS) The Indian Army has been able to send only 500 tents, adequate for accommodating about 5,000 people, to flood-ravaged Bihar due to a shortage resulting from sending a large number of tents as aid to earthquake-hit China in May this year, an official said.The number of tents sent to Bihar are highly inadequate with over 2.5 million people in 1,598 villages spread over 15 districts being affected by the floods triggered by the changed course of Kosi river.

“The army has been able to send only 500 tents so far due to the shortage subsequent to the tents sent by India to China after the earthquake. Moreover, the army needs to maintain its reserves as well,” an army official told IANS requesting anonymity.

India had sent 1,752 tents to China after the earthquake, while the army Wednesday moved 500 tents from Kanpur in Uttar Pradesh to Bihar. Each tent can accommodate only 10-12 people.

Sources at the Kanpur Ordnance Factory say that they will be able to manufacture adequate number of tents in the next three months only.

“The tents sent to China were manufactured over 2-3 years and they are highly specialized. The tents are made only on orders and are not available in the market,” the army official said.

India had sent large aid consignments comprising tents, blankets and other relief supplies to the China’s southwestern province of Sichuan, which was devastated in the earthquake.

The Kosi, sometimes called the “sorrow of Bihar”, changed its course after almost two centuries following a breach in an embankment upstream in Nepal. Unlike annual floods, there is little hope that the waters of the Kosi will recede soon.

The Indian Army has been conducting relief and rescue operations in Bihar since Aug 26 but the situation in Bihar remains grim.

Thirty-seven columns of the army, nearly 4,500 army men and 21 army medical teams have been deployed for rescue operations in six flood-hit districts of Bihar. The Indian Navy has also moved in 100 additional specialised divers, taking the total number of divers involved in the rescue operations to 250.

The Indian Air Force has also pitched in with 11 helicopters and three IL-76s, 13 AN-32 and two Avro transport aircraft for airlifting defence personnel and relief material.

But the biggest challenge so far is proving to be the rehabilitation of the evacuated people and the situation is by the shortage of tents.

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