| Food being cooked at a relief camp set up in a middle school at Akadh village in Saharsa’s Nauhatta block on Tuesday afternoon. Picture by Amit Anand |
Hundreds of villagers living under flood threat in the Kosi region were unwilling to shift to the nearest relief camps even as the district administration tried hard to convince them in the past few days.
Incidentally, the relief camps in several districts on Tuesday have asked people to vacate the shelters as the flood threat has come down.
The villagers of Chausa and Alamnagar blocks, about 250km northeast of Patna, have reasons of their unwillingness for not taking shelter at the relief camps after their bitter experience in the 2008 Kosi disaster.
They had left their homes, taken shelters temporarily at different relief camps. Before they returned home, their houses were robbed leaving them in penury. They ran into debts for years and they have to bear the burden of interest even now.
Subhash Singh of Khuran village in Alamnagar, Madhepura, said: “Why should we take shelter at relief camps meant for a week or two? If we do so, we will lose our permanent settlement as our houses would be robbed. We grow only single crop maize in a year that we have not sold yet. If we go to take shelters at the camps we will have to incur a huge loss and it cannot be compensated by the government as we still remember what happened in 2008.”
Shankar Jha, another resident of Chausa block, said: “Water level in the Kosi is very less in comparison with water level of the past 10-12 years. Paddy field is drying up due to scanty rainfall. How to believe the district administration’s plea of flood threat in the Kosi? If it floods, we would be very happy, as it might save our paddy crop. Our area is quite flood-prone and we are able to sustain it. The government cheated us in the 2008 floods. We will leave the village if water level touches our neck.”
Apart from Chausa and Alamnagar, there is no threat in Madhepura till the embankment break at any other point. In 2008, six blocks, including Murliganj, Kumarkhand, Bihariganj, Kuraini, Gwarpada, and Sadar blocks other than Chausa and Alamnagar were severely affected with flood because of the embankment breach.
An official at Khurhan said: “At the government middle school relief camp, at least 200-250 people had their lunch on Monday without taking shelter there, while they returned home at the evening after lunch. Taking notice of the event, Madhepura district magistrate Gopal Meena directed the officials concerned to register them before assisting them and giving shelters at relief camp and if possible see their voter identity card or ration card. There are four relief camps — two at Chausa block and two at Alamnagar block — which have been made operational so far.”
DM Meena said: “We have taken all the preventive measures to tackle any untoward situation. We have made four relief camps operational in Alamnagar and Chausa, which have been flood-prone area since long. We are alert and keeping close eyes on the development at the Kosi region so that proper action can be taken. We are striving hard to take people from those areas to relief camp but many residents refused to come to relief camp as they are emotionally attached to their homes.”