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Rediff.com  » News » Homeless Bihar struggles to survive in shelter camps amid flood alert

Homeless Bihar struggles to survive in shelter camps amid flood alert

August 04, 2014 15:00 IST

Homeless Bihar struggles to survive in shelter camps amid flood alert

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MI Khan

Locals, who were forced to evacuate their homes owing to fears of a flood, carried out a protest complaining of the lack of food, drinking water and plastic sheets at relief camps. MI Khan reports.

Budhni Devi shivering in the cold, taking small bites of her ‘stale food,’ cuts a sorry image. However, over 40,000 others share her plight.  Residents of Bihar’s Supaul district, who were evacuated from their homes after the state feared a flood looming large in the Kosi belt along the Bihar-Nepal border, complain that the state has not provided them with adequate relief, including water, food and plastic sheets.

Angry at their situation and feeling helpless, the evacuated residents took to protesting on Monday, blocking roads, shouting slogans against the local and state administration.

“The local administration along with the National Disaster Response Force forcibly evacuated us from our homes. But, they have failed to give us even the basic necessities to survive,” said a victim, who was part of the protest on Monday.

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Image: Villagers with their belongings sit in a relief camp after their evacuation at Supaul, Bihar.
Photographs: Krishna Murari Kishan/Reuters

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A frail Budhni added that people in the relief camps are being served stale food and asked to spend the nights without any shelter. “We are yet to receive plastic sheets to cover our heads. We are living under the open sky, despite the rains,” said Devi.

So far, Bihar has evacuated more than 65,000 people after the levels of the Kosi river rose drastically since Saturday leading to fears of a devastating flood. “We have evacuated more than 65,000 people but others still need to be evacuated,” said Anirudh Kumar, an official of the Bihar management disaster..

Kumar said the forcible evacuations took place after state invoked the provisions of the 
Disaster Management Act on Sunday.

Those evacuated are currently camping in 128 relief shelters set up at Supaul, Madhepura, Saharsa, Araria, Purnea, Madhubani and Darbhanga. The government has also set up 32 camps for cattle.

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Image: Villagers who left their homes after the flood alert in a relief camp in Birpur, Bihar
Photographs: PTI photo

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Principal secretary for disaster management department Vyasji said that thousands of people have on their own shifted to safety. “At least 10,000 to 15,000 have reportedly moved out of vulnerable places following the government’s appeal to move. They have left their houses and taking shelter at relatives’ homes,” he said.

He pointed that some people have been resisting the move to evacuate. “We have information that some villagers refused to move despite repeated efforts. But concerned officials are trying to convince them to move.”

The Bihar administration added that five columns of the Indian Army have been deployed, including 2 each in Supaul and Saharsa and 1 in Madhepura districts for any emergency. Additionally, 15 teams of NDRF and state disaster response force have been deployed.

Vayasji reiterated that government agencies concerned are preparing for the worst. “We are preparing with full capacity and monitoring and reviewing the situation regularly,” he concluded. 


Image: Villagers move with their belongings and cattle to relief camps at Supaul district, Bihar.
Photographs: Krishna Murari Kishan

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