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Flood relief & worry

Patna, Sept. 4: The 10-metre wide breach in the embankment on the Ganga at Gogri Narayanpur in Khagaria district was eventually patched today, bringing some relief to thousands of marooned people.

“It took 36 hours for the engineers, workers and local volunteers to fill the breach that had occurred at 3am yesterday. Thousands of people who had fled for safety due to the sudden gush of water in their settlements are returning with the water receding after the repair of the breach,” said officer on special duty, disaster management, Vipin Kumar.

The water level in the Ganga too showed receding trends from Buxar to Patna though the river maintained a steady level beyond Khagaria up to Bhagalpur. Official sources said there was a momentary improvement in the situation in some parts of the state but the overall flood situation in most of the 20 affected districts continued to be grim with the death toll rising to 176 today.

The floods caused by the Ganga have caused extensive damage to the Bhagalpur Agriculture University at Sabaur, submerging its research establishments and farmlands.

Officials, however, were in the grip of anxiety with the meteorological department predicting rainfall in the catchment areas of almost all the rivers, mainly in north Bihar, from September 8 onwards. Apart from taking the toll of 176 lives, the widespread flood has also claimed 455 cattle and damaged standing crop worth Rs 104 crore, according to a bulletin issued by the disaster management department.

Experts described the government’s actions as more “reactive” rather than putting in place a proper policy to find out a lasting solution to the problem.

Flood control expert Dinesh Mishra pointed out that Khagaria has always been the most vulnerable district since many major rivers, including the Ganga, Kosi, Bagmati, Adhwara group of rivers and their tributaries, converge there.

Though the government uploaded its flood control policy on the website way back in 2009, it had not so far implemented it at the ground level.

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