Bihar team visits Tamil Nadu to study tsunami relief work

September 20th, 2008 - 3:48 pm ICT by IANS  

Patna, Sep 20 (IANS) A team of Bihar officials, led by the development commissioner, is currently on a visit to tsunami-affected Tamil Nadu for studying the rehabilitation schemes and prepare a plan for the flood-hit victims.Development Commissioner S. Vijayraghavan was visiting Chennai to study the tsunami-affected areas and model of development adopted by Tamil Nadu in the post-tsunami period, official sources in the state disaster management said Saturday.

“Vijayraghavan will submit his report for rehabilitation and reconstruction to the state government after return from Tamil Nadu,” official sources said.

Earlier this month, Vijayraghavan had visited Gujarat to study the model of rehabilitation and reconstruction in post-earthquake Gujarat.

Faced with the “Herculean task” of rehabilitating three million flood victims, the Bihar government decided to study the lessons learnt after the 2001 Gujarat earthquake and the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami.

The state government will also be helped by UNDP for rehabilitation and reconstruction in the flood-affected districts. “A team of UNDP is doing a field survey to assess the damage by the flood and it will submit report to the government soon on rehabilitation and reconstruction.”

The state’s Disaster Management Minister Nitish Mishra said that rehabilitating hundreds of thousands of flood-affected people is a ‘Herculean task’ and a big challenge. “The state government plans to adopt the rehabilitation pattern used for victims of the tsunami as well as Gujarat’s earthquake,” he said.

Chief Minister Nitish Kumar demanded Rs.89.23 billion (Rs.8,923 crore) from the central government for the rehabilitation of the flood-hit people a week ago.

Last month, the prime minister had termed the Bihar flood a national calamity and announced an immediate release of Rs.10 billion (Rs.1,000 crore) for relief efforts. He also announced release of 125,000 tonnes of food grains.

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

The shifting river engulfed large swathes of Bihar, India’s second most populous state.

The floods have claimed at least 50 lives, according to official estimates. However, voluntary agencies fear the number could be in thousands once all bodies are recovered.

About 989,000 people have been evacuated to safer places till date. About 350,000 people have taken shelter in over 300 relief camps in flood-affected areas, officials said. Around 50,000 more were still marooned in the worst-hit districts of Madhepura and Supaul, who refused to move out despite the government’s repeated appeals.

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

Officials engaged in the rescue and relief operations said most flood-affected, homeless people were now living on high-rise places like embankments and highways apart from overcrowded relief camps set up by the government and NGOs.

An official said the state government had prepared a preliminary report on damages caused by the flood.

“But the real assessment of damages and losses will come to light after floodwaters recede fully by the second week of October,” the official said.

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