‘Don’t allow Bollywood stars, NGOs to adopt flood-hit villages’

October 17th, 2008 - 1:45 pm ICT by IANS  

Patna, Oct 17 (IANS) A team of experts from Gujarat, helping the Bihar government prepare a strategy for rehabilitating flood victims, has advised against allowing anyone including Bollywood stars and voluntary organisations from adopting flood-hit villages. According to the experts, allowing adoption of flood-hit villages will create a sense of discrimination in the flood ravaged state.

Several Bollywood stars and voluntary organisations have offered to adopt flood hit villages for rehabilitation and reconstruction.

The team after visiting the flood affected areas in five districts to study the ground conditions and plan a strategy for rehabilitation, said that state government should request all those who have shown keen interest in adopting flood-hit villages to take up the work of road construction and other works.

”The government may encourage them to join the development work instead of adopting a village,” said a team member.

The team had spent over a week in flood affected areas.

According to sources in planning and development department, the visiting team comprises of officials who were involved in rehabilitation work in the wake of the 2001 Gujarat earthquake.

The state government will also be helped by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) for rehabilitation and reconstruction in the flood-affected districts.

“A UNDP team has been busy doing a field survey to assess the damage by the floods and it will submit its report to the government soon,” an official said.

Disaster Management Minister Nitish Mishra said rehabilitating over three million flood victims was “A herculean task”.

Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has demanded Rs.89.23 billion from the central government for the rehabilitation of the flood-hit people in September.

In August, the prime minister had termed the Bihar flood a national calamity and sanctioned Rs.10 billion for relief efforts. He also announced the release of 125,000 tonnes of food grains for flood victims.

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 over 191 lives, according to official estimates. However, voluntary agencies fear the number could be in thousands once all bodies are recovered.

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 in flood-affected areas.

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.

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