Bihar asks private sector, NGOs to help flood victims

November 12th, 2008 - 5:06 pm ICT by IANS  

Patna, Nov 12 (IANS) The Bihar government will seek the aid of the private sector and NGOs for the reconstruction and rehabilitation efforts in the Kosi region, hit by devastating floods this year displacing hundreds of thousands of people.More than two and a half months after the worst floods in Bihar for the past 50 years swept through the region, the state government Tuesday approved the multipurpose Kosi rehabilitation and reconstruction policy 2008, entailing an estimated outlay of Rs.148 billion for its implementation.

The state cabinet also approved setting up of Kosi rehabilitation and reconstruction committee headed by chief minister Nitish Kumar for sanctioning schemes under the policy and deciding other issues.

A day after the policy was approved, cabinet secretary Girish Shankar said Wednesday that the private sector and NGOs would also be involved in reconstruction and rehabilitation. ”The private sector, NGOs and specialised institutions would be encouraged to involve themselves in the implementation of the policy,” he said.

The government is likely to soon approach some big corporate houses and NGOs, who have shown keen interest in assisting the reconstruction and rehabilitation efforts. ”The government will seek their help and request them to involve themselves in the reconstruction and rehabilitation measures,” an official of the state disaster management department told IANS here.

The multilateral policy, which will draw on the Calamity Relief Fund and various components of the central and state schemes, envisages reconstruction of houses destroyed in the flood and providing the affected people with community facilities and means of livelihood.

The government aims to evolve an impartial and empowered implementation system involving women self help groups, NGOs and Panchayati Raj institutions to ensure benefits reach the poorest of the poor.

More than three million people were rendered homeless and over one million cattle were affected by floods as the Kosi river changed its course following a breach in an embankment upstream in Nepal Aug 18.

The floods have claimed 191 lives, according to official estimates. However, voluntary agencies fear the number could be in thousands when all bodies are recovered once the waters subside.

Officials said 993,992 people have been evacuated to safer places till date. About 370,000 people have taken shelter in over 300 relief camps.

The state agriculture department has estimated that standing crops in 175,000 hectares of farms have been destroyed in Madhepura, Supaul, Saharsa, Araria and Purnea districts.

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