Bihar floods: 1,400 villages in 15 districts affected; locals blame dysfunctional infrastructure as health dangers loom large
The flooded areas of Patna are now facing the threat of diseases such as dengue, malaria and chikungunya.
In several parts of Patna, waterlogging has thrown normal life out of gear.
Several low-lying areas such as Bazar Samiti, Rajendra Nagar, Kankarbagh, Patliputra Colony, Anisabad and TV Tower continue to be flooded.
According to the Patna Municipal Corporation, relief work is in full swing.
In several parts of Patna, waterlogging has thrown normal life out of gear. Several low-lying areas such as Bazar Samiti, Rajendra Nagar, Kankarbagh, Patliputra Colony, Anisabad and TV Tower continue to be flooded. Although the rains have stopped, in some areas, electricity, telephone and internet connections have been missing for the past nine days.
The villages of Khokhna, Akhadiya, Bhedgawa, Bidauli, Sultanpur and Sudhi were neck deep in flood water.
In total, people from 1,400 villages of 90 blocks in 15 districts in Bihar were left stranded due to flooding. At least 73 people have died and more than 20 lakh people are estimated to be affected.
According to the Patna Municipal Corporation, relief work is in full swing. Twenty teams of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), State Disaster Response Force (SDRF) and a small unit of National Cadet Corps (NCC) comprising of 20 cadets have been carrying out rescue work with the help of boats and tractors. Milk and mineral water bottles are being distributed to affected people by rescue workers travelling on boats.
A team of PMC workers has been deployed to sprinkle bleaching powder and carry out fumigation at waterlogged areas to reduce the possibility of diseases in the aftermath of the flood. The NDRF has rescued over 10,000 people from flooded areas till now. It is estimated that draining the water from affected areas will take a couple of days more.
A PMC official, on the condition of anonymity, said that four heavy-duty suction pumps have been brought from Chhattisgarh. But their compatibility with existing sump houses across the city is a big challenge. Many sump structures, which are small in comparison to pumps, have undergone structural changes to fit in the suction pumps.
Meanwhile, a war of words has begun between the state government and the local administration over the issue. Patna Mayor Sita Sahu, who belongs to the BJP, has repeatedly blamed the state government for the deluge.
BJP MP from Patliputra Ram Kripal Yadav also accused the Patna city administration of neglecting areas that fall under his parliamentary constituency. Recently, Yadav had fallen into a river when he was on a visit to Ramnibigha village, which comes under his constituency.
Likewise, BJP MP from Begusarai and Union minister Giriraj Singh openly accused Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Modi of mismanagement.
However, the Patna Mayor, MLAs from constituencies of Kumhrar, Bankipur and Digha, as also the state's deputy chief minister, are from the BJP.
Flooding in the city appeared to have been caused by a choked, damaged and dysfunctional drainage system, and delayed activation of pumps at the sump houses. The floods were so severe that animal carcasses were seen on several roads.
Patna has not seen flooding of such levels since in 1970s. Dinesh Mishra, a civil engineer and flooding expert said, “The authorities have the resources, money and workforce to arrive at a solution. However, planning of drainage systems and efficient sump machines are nowhere to be seen. Authorities have pushed the city to the edge of disaster by misusing public money. Also, now, they all come up with the excuse of ‘climate change.’”
Former Bihar chief secretary Vijay Shankar Dubey said, “This sort of waterlogging after a spell of heavy rains was expected. The city lacks good infrastructure, and the district administration miserably failed to anticipate the deluge. The state’s urban development minister, the Patna mayor and the BUIDCO failed to discharge their duties.”
Rajeswar Kumar Rai, a government employee who lives in Rajendra Nagar, said, "We are forced to wade through knee-deep water in our area. Now, we have become used to this. The civic body’s assertion that it would tackle waterlogging properly has proved to be a farce. I have been staying in this area for ten years, and nothing has changed."
At Patna’s biggest fruit market, Bazar Samiti, unhygienic conditions prevailed, and the air was thick with the rotting smell of tonnes of fruits.
Narendra Kumar, an activist of the Jan Adhikar Party (JAP), said, "We are doing our best in terms of providing relief in forms of food packets, medicines, etc to those in need. But it must be said that the condition of Patna has become terrible due to the floods."
The flooded areas are now facing the threat of diseases such as dengue, malaria and chikungunya. The state government has issued an order directing health officials to immediately visit affected areas.
Other parts of Patna district also face the same situation. According to the water resources department, flood water from the Punpun river submerged the Danapur railway section, along with more than 30 villages of the block. The Punpun river was recently flowing 3 metres above the danger mark, and the floods damaged rural livelihoods. This also led to the cancellation of all passenger trains on the Patna-Gaya and Patna-Rajgir sections.
Patna has the Punpun river to its southeast, Ganga to its north, Gandak to the west and Sone to the southwest.
Patna district magistrate Ravi Kumar has been camping in Punpun, keeping a close watch on the situation along NDRF and SDRF teams. Block level authorities of Phulwari Sharif , Fatuha, Paliganj and Dhanarua have been put on alert.
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