Bright sunshine brings hope to Bihar’s flood hit


Darbhanga : A bright sun and clear sky Tuesday after days of heavy rain brought hope to millions in Bihar driven away from their homes due to floods though the stagnant waters everywhere are now beginning to smell, triggering fears of water-borne diseases.

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After the worst flood in Bihar in decades, the situation improved Tuesday with all the major rivers beginning to recede.

There has been no rain since Monday and the bright sun has brought hope to the people that things will now get better.

“We are happy that at last the gods have heard our prayers and there has been no more rains,” said Dhirendra Mishra, a businessman who has been forced to shut his shop for the past 10 days due to the deluge.

The displaced people continue to huddle together on stretches of raised embankments, on roads, roofs and bridges, existing on meagre dry rations.

There is an awful stink over Darbhanga town with major parts of it waterlogged and muddy. For the people it is an added worry as the putrefying waters could lead to water-borne diseases.

Many of the displaced people maintain they are yet to get any food packets or water. Most are fighting for survival with virtually nothing to eat. They are sleeping under the open sky and are forced to drink the polluted water.

There is acute shortage of essential medicines as well as doctors in rural areas hit by floods.

State disaster management chief Manoj Srivastava said that relief operations were on at a war footing and denied reports of shortage in relief items.

Over 12 million people, of the state’s 83 million, have been affected across 19 of its 38 districts. Preliminary estimates by the disaster management department say over 6,000 villages have been hit by the floods.

The floods have claimed over 100 lives, destroyed hundreds of homes and cut off several districts.

On Tuesday, the state government used four helicopters of the Indian Air Force to drop food packets for the fourth consecutive day while Congress President Sonia Gandhi and Home Minister Shivraj Patil visited the flood-hit areas.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh assured the Bihar government of all help for relief and rescue operations. According to sources, responding to the request by Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, the prime minister said he would do everything to help the millions in distress.

He also expressed his concern over the loss of lives and damage to property.

Nitish Kumar urged Singh to provide more assistance from the Calamity Relief Fund and more food grains. He also requested Singh to tour the flood-affected areas to personally assess the extent of the calamity.