The Telegraph
Friday , August 8 , 2014
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Battle on Kosi crisis credit

Patna, Aug. 7: The state government is in no mood to give any credit to the Centre for its role in convincing Nepal to go slow on water release in the Kosi to avert rerun of the 2008 catastrophe.

Water resources minister Vijay Kumar Choudhary today refuted the Centre’s claim for averting the calamity and said Delhi “made a mockery of the devastating situation”, which Bihar faced in the past few days.

“The comment by external affair minister Sushma Swaraj is not only surprising but also worrisome. It shows that the Centre simply does not understand the severe problem faced by Bihar. How does Delhi deal this issue so lightly?” said Choudhary.

Yesterday, Sushma told the Rajya Sabha that Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s presence in Nepal helped avert the flood threat to Bihar. Sushma, to a question from JDU MP Sharad Yadav, had said the threat was averted after Nepal drained out excess water from the artificial dam created on the Sunkosi (a tributary of the Kosi in the Himalayan country).

However, Choudhary added: “Sushma has made a mockery of the devastating situation which Bihar faced by giving the unnecessary credit to the Prime Minister. Her comment that there will be no flood this time in Bihar is more shocking. Can the Centre give us guarantee and to the people of Bihar that the Kosi natural crisis is over?”

She had also said since the artificial lake on the Kosi was created at the time Modi was in Nepal, the officials in the Himalayan nation carried out a controlled explosion and drained out the water.

The 2008 Kosi disaster led to political outrage when Nitish Kumar, who was chief minister then, had returned a cheque of Rs 5 crore in 2010 from his then Gujarat counterpart Narendra Modi. When Modi visited Bihar to campaign for the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, he had sought an apology from Nitish for insulting the people of Gujarat by returning the Rs 5-crore cheque given to the 2008 Kosi flood relief fund.

Choudhary added that Sushma has come out with such comment to cover Modi, who hardly took “any concrete steps on the flood issue” during his Nepal visit. “The people here were expecting that the Prime Minister will initiate a positive talk with Nepal to end the curse of flood in Bihar but talk on this issue did not take place. He preferred talking about the Pancheshwar project which will help Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh. But he forgot talking about the long-pending demand of construction of dams on upper reaches of the Kosi in Barah,” he said.

After the flood threat, the Bihar government with the help of National Disaster Response Force and State Disaster Response Force evacuated nearly 1.4 lakh people from the nine affected districts.

Choudhary also said next time when any talks are held with Nepal, the Bihar government should also be invited so that they can convey their side as well.

Interestingly, chief secretary Anjani Kumar Singh yesterday thanked Union cabinet secretary Ajit Seth through a letter and expressed his gratitude to the National Crisis Management Committee for extending all possible assistance to the state in tackling the flood situation. The committee is headed by Seth.