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Bihar floods leave thousands missing
Anand Mohan Sahay in Patna | September 23, 2008 13:40 IST
Last Updated: September 23, 2008 15:32 IST
Tracking hundreds of missing people, particularly women and children, in flood-hit Bihar is proving to be the biggest challenge for the state government and the non governmental organisations involved in relief and rehabilitation.
Hundreds of people were seen queuing up in front of relief camps in the flood-affected districts of Madhepura, Saharsa, Supaul, Purnia and Araria to trace their missing family members. Thousands of people have been separated from their families or washed away after floods wreaked havoc in the state in August.
Till now, over 1,200 reports about missing persons have been registered.
"We know it is a difficult task to trace the people missing after the floods, but we have been working hard to reunite them" Additional Commissioner of Disaster Management Department Pratyaya Amrit told rediff.com in Patna on Tuesday.
The government is taking the help of a Hyderabad based firm -- Safal Solutions Private Limited -- to prepare a database of the complaints, which are being lodged through toll free numbers and control rooms at relief camps. The government also sought the help of American I-T giant IBM to compile a database to help track missing people.
"Safal Solutions Private Limited is busy preparing a database to help track the missing people," said Arvind Chaudhary, director of Bihar Livelihood Project.
The State Disaster Management Department has constituted a lost and found cell and prepared a data sheet on the missing persons. The data sheet has been sent to all district magistrates in the flood affected districts, to cross check it with the details of those seeking refuge in the relief camps.
'Rehabilitation of thousands of flood affected people will be on the pattern used for tsunami victims in Tamil Nadu and earthquake victims in Gujarat," Bihar Disaster Management Minister Nitish Mishra Bihar told rediff.com.
Approximately 9,89,000 people have been evacuated to safer places till date and over four lakh people have taken shelter in the 347 relief camps set up by the government in flood-affected areas, officials said.
But over 50,000 people are still marooned in the worst-hit districts of Madhepura and Sapaul, and they have refused to move out despite repeated appeal by the government.
The floods have claimed over 125 lives according to official estimates. However, NGOs fear the actual toll could cross 1,000 once all the bodies are recovered.
The state Agriculture Department has estimated that standing crops in 175,000 hectares of land have been destroyed in Madhepura, Supaul, Saharsa, Araria and Purnia districts.
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