Bihar floods a national calamity: PMAugust 28th, 2008 - 4:22 pm ICT by IANS
Patna, Aug 28 (IANS) Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Thursday announced an immediate assistance of Rs.10 billion to Bihar for rescue and relief operations and 125,000 tonnes of food grains to thousands hit by the worst floods in recent memory after the swollen Kosi river changed course.Describing the floods in the state as a “national calamity”, the prime minister promised all possible help to the state to tide over the situation after an aerial survey along with Congress president Sonia Gandhi of the four most-seriously-hit districts - Supaul, Saharsa, Araria and Madhepura.
Nearly 1.4 million people had been displaced by the river waters after the Kosi changed its course and they may well have to stay in temporary camps till March-April next year, according to state officials.
Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, who met Manmohan Singh a day earlier in New Delhi, said over 55 persons had died in the current spell of floods and over 2.5 million people in 15 districts have been affected. Of them, 1.97 million people were in the four worst-affected districts.
Manmohan Singh and Sonia Gandhi arrived at the Purnia airbase by a special Indian Air Force plane from New Delhi Thursday and took off in a chopper for the aerial survey.
They were accompanied by Home Minister Shivraj Patil and several cabinet ministers including Lalu Prasad and Ram Vilas Paswan, both MPs from Bihar.
During his interaction with the prime minister, Nitish Kumar maintained that the flood was not a normal.
“As the course of the river has changed, the waters are likely to stay for some time,” he said, adding that he had already appealed to inhabitants of the flood-affected areas to shift to safer, more secure places or the relief camps set by the state government.
With the state bearing the brunt of floods almost every year, the chief minister also asked Manmohan Singh to find a permanent solution to the problem in consultation with Nepal.
Besides the relief announced, Nitish Kumar also wanted the central government to ensure that a sufficient number of motorboats was made available to the state without any interruption.
He also sought the supply of adequate tents and other shelter material for providing temporary refuge to the people.