Declare Bihar floods as national calamity: BJP


New Delhi : The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Wednesday demanded the floods in Bihar, the worst in the recent history of the country, be declared a national calamity and the central government should bear the burden of the relief and rehabilitation operations in the state.

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“I spoke to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh this morning (Wednesday) and expressed concern over the flood-induced situation,” senior BJP leader L.K. Advani said.

“I urge the central government to assist the state government in every possible way in dealing with this extraordinary natural disaster, he said.

The people of Bihar are reeling under the floods, which have affected over 11,000 villages and nearly four million people, Advani said.

The situation has become extremely grim particularly because river Kosi has unexpectedly changed course, inundating those districts of northern Bihar which were totally unprepared to face the fury of the flood.

The BJP leader said that the PM “assured me on this score and informed me that he was visiting Bihar for an on-the-spot survey tomorrow (Thursday).”

Advani compared the devastation and dislocation caused by the floods, especially in the districts of Saharsa, Supaul, Madhepura and Araria, with tsunami.

“I demand that the central government treat this as a national calamity and bear the full burden of relief and rehabilitation operations. It cannot and must not be seen as a calamity of Bihar alone,” Advani said.

Calling upon all political parties to rise over party politics while dealing with relief and rehabilitation matters, Advani praised Bihar’s government for responding effectively to the calamity.

“The first and foremost consideration of all political parties at this moment should be to save lives and alleviate the suffering of people. Wherever evacuation is needed, it should be effected urgently and smoothly,” he said.

“After the immediate tasks of evacuation and relief are over, the central and state governments, in cooperation with all the political parties, should seriously consider putting in place an effective long-term strategy about management of floods, which are ravaging Bihar, Assam and other states in northern, eastern and north-eastern India year after year,” Advani said.