Bihar floods: kin of those missing to receive compensation within two years

October 31st, 2008 - 2:30 pm ICT by IANS  

Patna, Oct 31 (IANS) The kin of the thousands of people who are missing after this year’s devastating floods in Bihar will receive compensation within two years, instead of having to undergo the usual seven-year wait. The government’s decision to relax the compensation rules for the kin of missing people in natural calamities will provide a ray of hope to many, who have not only lost a family member, but their home and belongings.

State cabinet secretary Girish Shankar said that the compensation rules have been relaxed for beneficiaries in Madhepura, Supaul, Saharsa, Araria and Purnia districts, that were devastated by floods this year.

More than two months after the floods hit the state, 3,611 people are still missing and hopes of tracing them are receding with each passing day. The state government has virtually given up, having failed to trace not more than a few.

Most of the missing people are from Madhepura’s Kumarkhand and Murliganj and Supaul’s Chhattpur areas, said an official of the Bihar Livelihood Project.

Withe thousands still missing, opposition parties had demanded that related laws be amended to enable their dependents to get compensation as soon as possible.

According to compensation rules, a person who goes missing during a natural calamity is deemed to have died only after he or she does not return for seven years and their families have to wait for that period to get compensation.

The Kosi River breached its embankment in upstream Nepal in August, flooding hundreds of villages in Bihar. More than three million people in over 1,000 villages were rendered homeless and over one million cattle affected by the floods.

About 989,000 people were evacuated to safer places and nearly 400,000 took shelter in over 300 relief camps in flood-affected areas, according to officials.

The calamity has claimed over 191 lives, according to official estimates. However, voluntary agencies fear the number could be higher.

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