| Former chief minister of Bihar Jagannath Mishra (right) at the seminar in Patna on Wednesday. Picture by Ranjeet Kumar Dey |
Patna, Aug. 18: Two years after the August 18, 2008 Kosi flood swept away more than 3 lakh houses in 980 villages in Supaul, Madhepura, Saharsa, Araria and Purnea, the reasons behind the devastation were discussed at a seminar today.
On completion of two years of the disaster the Manavadhikar Sanrakshan Pratishthan organised a seminar on reconstruction and rehabilitation of Kosi belt. Former chief minister of Bihar, Jagannath Mishra, addressed the seminar.
The unstopped waters destroyed standing crops of paddy, wheat and vegetable on 1,10,000 hectares of fertile land. An estimated 3.2 million people lost their livelihood.
“People of Kosi region should have been provided funding for removing sand from their fields and also to reclaim the same for agriculture purposes. Additionally, they should have been provided a similar package for reconstruction of damaged houses. However, they have been denied these by the central government,” said Mishra.
“The flood-affected people are among the most impoverished in the area, and floods seem to be part of the periodic tribulations that these hapless people cope with along with caste conflicts and deaths due to starvation,” said Ramesh Singh, who attended the seminar.
The Nitish Kumar government managed to get the assistance from the Centre for disaster shelters, cattle sheds, and restoration of canals, tubewells and damaged health centres.
The seminar laid emphasis on the committees formed by the state government in every district to look after rehabilitation and reconstruction works. “It is doing well but more needs to be done for desired results. Around 1 lakh houses are still to be built,” said Mishra.
“The government has taken up a programme to raise and strengthen all existing embankments along the river. Roads are being made over all these embankments. These will take care of the communication problem as long as the embankments are intact,” said Mishra.
“Long-term reconstruction of infrastructure in the region is required. However, this too needs central assistance,” Mishra added.
The state government approved Rs 193.9 crore for reconstruction of houses, for roads Rs 6.43 crore, school buildings Rs 3.87 crore, electricity infrastructure Rs 11.5 crore and for desalting of agriculture land Rs 4.6 crore in 2009.