Evacuation in flood-hit Bihar to be completed in three days

September 2nd, 2008 - 9:43 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Sep 2 (IANS) The armed forces have evacuated half of the of the people marooned in the flood-hit Bihar by Tuesday and would be able to rescue the remaining stranded 300,000 people in the next two to three days, a senior army official said here.Thirty-seven columns of the army, nearly 4,500 army men and 21 army medical teams have been deployed for rescue operations in six districts of Bihar, ravaged by the floods in the Kosi river.

“Evacuation of marooned people remains our main focus and so far we have rescued 50 percent of the stranded people. We should be able to evacuate all the stranded people in next two to three days,” Director of Media Colonel A.K. Das told reporters here.

The army on an average has been evacuating 20,000 to 25,000 people a day. It has set up three nodal centres under the supervision of three Brigadiers at Danapur, Katihar and Khagaria to manage the operations.

Thereafter, the army will shift its focus to “health and sanitation”.

“We plan thereafter (after evacuation) to shift our focus to health and sanitation and restoring essential road and rail links. We have been able to restore all telecommunication links,” Das added.

The navy has deployed 145 divers and a specialized team comprising 46 personnel of all the three Commands - Western Naval Command at Mumbai, Eastern Naval Command at Visakhapatnam and Southern Naval Command at Kochi.

The Indian Air Force (IAF) has also been pressed into service for ferrying relief material and troops from across the country.

“So far we have pressed transport aircraft IL-76 and Avro and helicopters into service,” Air Commodore G.S. Cheema said.

The IL-76 has ferried 1,316 defence personnel and 292 tonnes of relief material in 37 sorties. Transport aircraft AN-32 has brought 532 defence personnel and 61 tonnes of material from across the country in 102 sorties and Avro has ferried 61 people and 9.132 tonnes material in 16 sorties.

According to government figures, nearly 467,000 marooned people have been evacuated and over 150,000 were sheltered in 172 relief camps.

Over 2.5 million people in 1,598 villages spread over 15 districts have been affected by the floods triggered by the Kosi. The floods have claimed 35 lives so far.

The Kosi, sometimes called the “Sorrow of Bihar”, changed its course after almost two centuries following a breach in an embankment upstream in Nepal. Unlike annual floods, there is little hope that the waters of the Kosi will recede soon.

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