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Flood alert after drought scare

The fear of drought is past. Now, it’s flood.

The disaster management department on Thursday issued a flood alert in four districts of western Bihar. The silver lining is that more rain is expected at least till Tuesday that would help overcome the drought-like situation and would be a boon for the kharif crops.

“According to the India Meteorological Department (IMD) forecast, parts of western Bihar, especially districts like Buxar, Kaimur, Rohtas and Bhojpur, are expected to receive heavy downpour in the next 48 hours. The department has sounded an alert and the district magistrates concerned have been informed about it. Eight teams of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) and four teams of the State Disaster Response Force (SDRF) are at position in different places,” Anirudh Kumar, special secretary, disaster management department, said.

Only some days ago, the drought shadow was looming large over 28 districts with chief minister Jitan Ram Manjhi stating last week that the state government was keeping a close eye on the situation and there was a possible drought announcement in the offing soon after August 15.

Agricultural experts also said it would bring smiles to farmers. “The current spell of rain is salvaging the situation and making it friendly for the farmers. There have been some delays about transplantation of paddy plants but one can now expect good production. There might be some losses owing to the delay but the ongoing rain will act as a saviour for the farmers,” said Anil Jha, agriculture department expert.

The Met office said northern districts would also receive rain in the next 48 hours. “The deficiency of rainfall in the state has decreased considerably. Till Monday, there was 27 per cent rainfall deficiency in the state, which has now come down to 19 per cent. Though rain will be continuing districts in north Bihar near the Himalayan foothills are expected to witness heavy rainfall measuring more than 130mm in the next 48 hours. In Patna, there will be moderate rainfall,” said Ashish Sen, director, IMD, Patna.

Sources in the agriculture department agreed. “The department had planned paddy plant transplantation in 34 lakh hectares by August. Of this, the department has been able to achieve 75 per cent of the target until Monday,” a department official said.