| The empty cattle shed at Patna collectorate on Thursday. Picture by Nagendra Kumar Singh |
Suresh Mahto is happy to leave the flood relief camp and return home as water in the Ganga has receded from the low-lying diara areas of the district.
Since last month, he and his family members, along with many others, had taken shelter at BS College, Danapur, after the river in spate inundated their village in the Ganga diara. Now that the river has receded, they have all started returning home.
“I have been staying at this relief camp with four members of my family for the past 25 days,” said Suresh.
He added: “But now, the time has come to go home. Government officials told us that the water in the Ganga has receded and it is safe for us to return.”
Disaster management department officer-on-special duty Vipin Kumar Rai said: “Nearly 2 lakh people in Patna district had been displaced by the increased water-level in the Ganga. Seven relief camps had been set up at Danapur, Athmangola, Bakhtiyarpur and Barh blocks. More than 17,000 people had been accommodated in these camps.”
Some of the villagers had brought along their cattle while abandoning their inundated villages.
Now, it is time for the animals to go back as well. In its report, “Displacement paves milky way”, The Telegraph on September 3, 2013, had described how cattle owners from rural areas had set up sheds at the collectorate and were selling milk at low rates to any customer they could find.
The empty cattle sheds are now being dismantled. Most of the cattle owners have returned home or are on their way back. Before leaving, most of them have only words of appreciation for the way in which the officials have helped them.
Randhir Prasad, a farmer from Nakta Diara panchayat, said: “We can now return to our village, Bisunpur. Two days back, a number of people went back to the village. They informed us that the water has receded from ours as well as neighbouring villages like Kafurpur, Ganghara, Hetanpur and Balkhari Tola. It is now safe to go there.”
He added: “The district administration made adequate arrangements for us here. They not only provided a place for us but also for our cows and buffaloes.”
According to official data, the flood claimed seven lives in Patna district and 208 across the state. The district administration used 229 boats to evacuate the natural disaster refugees. The government spent Rs 34.5 lakh on distributing food, vegetables, medicine, kerosene, candles and polythene.
Even as the flood refugees are on their way home, more relief is on its way.
District magistrate N. Saravana Kumar said: “We have identified the flood victims through a survey. The district administration is trying to help them out. Every family will be given a quintal of foodgrain and Rs 1,500.”
He added: “To prevent an outbreak of diseases, the civil surgeon has been asked to ensure that bleaching power is sprinkled in areas from which floodwater has receded. Patna Municipal Corporation has also been asked to clean up the ghats in the city.”