|Rediff India Abroad Home | All the sections|
Floods: Bihar will take years to recover
Anand Mohan Sahay in Patna | August 08, 2007 14:32 IST
Bihar's worst floods have not only rendered hundreds of thousands homeless, it has also damaged lakhs of hectares in standing crops, thousands of houses, roads, bridges, embankments and hundreds of schools.
The widespread damage caused by the floods has led United Nations to label it the worst floods in living memory.
It may take years for the victims to recover from the damage and misery inflicted by the floods and the state government faces a big challenge to rebuild and repair the damage.
Thousands of children in the flood-affected districts are unlikely to attend school for months. About 4,500 schools have been damaged by the floods as per the governemnt's initial assessment.
According to official figures, 60 primary and middle schools have been completely damaged or washed away and 1,960 have suffered extensive damage and 2,000 suffered minor damage.
In East Champaran district alone nearly 1,000 schools have been damaged, followed by 480 in Muzaffarpur, nearly 400 in Sitamarhi and 300 in Darbhanga. Official sources said that exact number of damaged schools will be available after two weeks.
Bihar Principal Secretary M M Jha said that a report on the damage to school had been submitted to the state disaster management cell. "We have records of extensive damage to 86 high schools, nearly 90 were partially damaged," Jha said.
Jha told rediff.com that hundreds of educational institutions including schools, colleges, medical colleges in 19 of Bihar's 38 districts have been temporarily closed. "Classes in most government schools and colleges have been disrupted since the last two weeks," Jha said.
Thousands of farmers have also been were hard hit by floods as their standing crops were either washed away or damaged. Crops in nearly 11 lakh hectares worth Rs 3,300 crore have been destroyed in floods, according to the state government's initial figures presented in a memorandum to the centre for financial assistance.
The villagers living on embankments along the national highway in Darbhanga and Samastipur are worried. They are sure that there will be no grain this year in their fields as standing crops have been completely destroyed in the floods.
Taking this into account, Bihar government has demanded Rs 100 crore from the centre as agriculture subsidy. The government has already announced plans to provide compensation to the farmers.
At least 75,000 houses have been damaged. Half of them have either been washed away or collapsed. There are thousands of families either living under open sky or on embankments, roads, bridges or any higher places.
Floods have badly damaged embankments and bridges in the flood-hit districts. "Dozens of embankments have been damaged and washed away," a senior official in the state water resources department said.
Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has instructed principal secretary of water resources development department, A K Sinha, to make a survey of all the embankments and take measures to save fertile land from the floods. He conceded that the embankments have not been properly protected.Similarly roads including national highways have also been badly damaged.
Over 12 million people, mostly in north Bihar, spread over 6,000 villages have been affected. The floods have claimed 110 lives so far.
The flood havoc paints a gloomy picture for the state. Bihar ranks as one of the slowest growing regions in the country. The state being primarily a rural economy and having no industry worth the name, a majority of the 83 million population depends on agriculture for their livelihood.