New Delhi/Patna, Aug 3 :
The central government Sunday stepped up precautionary measures in view of a flood alert in Bihar, keeping the IAF on standby and deploying the army even as state Chief Minister Jitan Ram Manjhi said the situation was under control and there was no need to panic.
Cabinet Secretary Ajit Seth Sunday chaired a National Crisis Management Committee (NCMC) meeting in New Delhi in the wake of a drastic rise in the Kosi river’s water level following Saturday’s landslide in Nepal that killed eight people as mud and rocks came crashing down and blocked a tributary. Controlled blasts were carried out by the Nepali army to clear the blockage.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed concern over the flood situation and directed that all possible assistance be made available.
Manjhi, who held a top-level meeting at Birpur near Nepal border to assess the situation, later told media persons in Patna that “at present situation is under control”.
“The state government will monitor it closely for next two days, and there is no need to panic,” he said.
Manjhi also conducted an aerial survey of the Kosi region and said that people living outside the embankments were not facing threat of floods.
He said the state government has targeted evacuation of 1.5 lakh to 2 lakh people living within the embankment area and urged them to move to relief camps. As many as 107 relief camps and 30 cattle camps have been set up in the flood-prone districts of the state, while authorities have evacuated 45,000 people from districts likely to be hit by floods.
Manjhi also said that Nepal had conducted blasts to clear the blockage and water had started coming downstream slowly.
Union Communications and IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad assured all possible help to the Bihar government.
“The centre’s actions have been prompt and timely,” Prasad told reporters in the national capital.
He said the water level in Kosi river was rising though not at an alarming rate but the situation remained unpredictable.
Seth, who held two emergency meetings of NCMC Saturday, held meetings Sunday also.
An official release said he was “in constant and direct touch” with the state chief secretary, while eight teams of National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) with boats have been deployed in Bihar, seven more were being deployed and five had been kept on standby.
Army columns and personnel of engineering task force have been mobilised to reach Supaul, and Saharsa, while AN-32 transport aircraft of Indian Air Force would be used to carry personnel and equipment to Purnia.
The release said that four MI-17 and two Chetak helicopters had been moved to Bihta near Patna and two more MI-17 choppers were on standby. Naval diving teams have also been kept in readiness. The central government is also sending a medical team and equipment.
The release said that central government has also provided Bihar government 15 satellite phones.