New Delhi: The Bihar Government has admitted that half the state is under water and some 30 lakh people have been affected in all.
Sixteen out of 37 districts have been affected with Supaul, Saharsa, Madhepura and Araria being the worst hit areas.
Relief and rescue operations were intensified on Monday, with hundreds of defence personnel joining the administration in evacuating millions of marooned people, officials said.
“All three wings of the defence forces are involved in evacuation of marooned people," Prayaya Amrit, additional secretary of the state disaster management department, said.
Twenty-two columns of the defence forces, including 19 columns of the Army and three columns of the Navy have been involved in evacuation and relief operations, while six Air Force helicopters have been engaged in air-dropping of food packets.
An official of the state disaster management department said Sunday that nearly 467,000 marooned people had been evacuated and over 150,000 people were sheltered in 172 relief camps.
The surging waters of the Kosi river continued to inundate more areas as hundreds of villages remained under water.
"The water level in the flooded areas rose by two to three feet in several places as the river inundated new areas of Saharsa, Supaul, Araria, Madhepura and Purnea districts," an official said.
Over 30 lakh people in 1,598 villages spread over 15 districts have been affected by the floods, officials said.
The floods have claimed 35 lives, including 20 people who died Friday when the boat they were travelling in capsized in Madhepura.
Aid agencies said the government of the impoverished state of Bihar should have done more to anticipate the disaster and plan relief operations in a region hit by monsoon flooding every year. "Lessons from the past disasters should be kept in mind while planning response," ActionAid said in a statement. "A long-term comprehensive response is necessary to deal with relief, recovery and disaster preparedness."
The Kosi river, 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.
Here is a brief description of the flood situation in Bihar:
- 42 deaths
- Total affected people: 23.13 lakh
- Total evacuated: 4,67,655
- Total relief camps: 172
- People living in flood relief camps - 1,53,706
- Total villages destroyed by flood: 806
(With inputs from IANS, PTI and Reuters)