M A I N   N E W S

More Army men, machines for Bihar
4.75 lakh evacuated

New Delhi, September 1
With floods causing havoc in eastern parts of the country, the Centre today rushed 16 additional Army columns comprising about 2,000 men and 141 Navy divers to Bihar and 400 Army men to Assam to step up relief and rescue operations.

Navy chief Admiral Sureesh Mehta, who is also the chairman of Chiefs of Staff Committee, announced that the tri-services personnel would contribute their two days’ ration for distribution among the flood victims in the two states.

The government has also decided to send a top-level team headed by cabinet secretary K M Chandrasekhar and comprising Defence Secretary Vijay Singh and representatives of the Directorate-General of Military Operations to Bihar tomorrow to assess the situation.

“Another 16 columns of about 2,000 men have been sent to areas affected by the floods in River Kosi. Another three columns of about 400 men have been rushed to Assam. Admiral Mehta has announced the contribution of two-day ration towards relief work.

“Lt Gen Panag too is currently on a visit there. A top-level team headed by cabinet secretary is also going to Bihar tomorrow,” Defence Ministry sources said here.

While the Army’s Lucknow-based Central Command chief Lt Gen H S Panag visited some of the flood-hit areas and supervised the operations in Bihar, the 16 additional Army columns reached Madhepura, Supaul and Araria districts of the state this morning, the Army sources said.

The floods caused by the breach in the eastern afflux embankment at upstream Kuaha village in Nepal on August 18 is the worst in the region. The area was considered secure against the possibilities of floods after construction of hundreds of miles of embankments and Bheemnagar barrage more than four decades ago.

Though disaster management additional secretary Pratayaya Amrit said while over 4.75 lakh people have been evacuated, lakhs more were in dire need of being shifted to safer places. Amrit said about two lakh people were taking shelter in 17 relief camps set up by the state governments and many more being run by non-government organisations.

Amrit said Nepal government had agreed to help India in taming the river which causes huge damage to infrastructure in Bihar.

He said the situation was fast improving and trapped people were being evacuated with the help of army and NGOs. Railway minister Lalu Prasad held the state government responsible for the catastrophe and the plight of the flood affected people of north Bihar.

Lalu has announced a slew of measures for the flood affected people and has appealed to railwaymen to donate a day’s salary to the Railway Minister’s welfare and relief fund.

Lalu is to reach Saharsa by his special train to take stock of the situation. He would be meeting the victims taking shelter in the relief camps one of which is being run by the railways.

Samajwadi party state president and former Bihar minister Ashok Kmar Singh said there was no relief worth the name in the flood-hit areas.

State BSP general secretary Ganganath claimed that he had supplied 500 readymade food packets, besides 500 saris and clothes to the victims. NGOs and other organisations are also chipping in with relief.

Meanwhile, the Kataiya hydel project producing 18 mw of power has been shut down after flood waters entered premises. — Agencies



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