The death toll in the Bihar floods mounted to 24 on Monday, with 25.66 lakh people reeling from the deluge in 12 districts of the state following incessant rains in neighbouring country Nepal, officials said.
Five more children drowned in two separate incidents in East Champaran district, but a senior official of the state disaster management department said they were not counted among the flood casualties.
With five rivers in spate, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar undertook an aerial survey of the flood-hit areas during the day.
Of the 24 deaths reported till 6 pm on Monday, Sitamarhi accounted for 10, while nine deaths were reported from Araria, four from Kishanganj and one from Sheohar, a Disaster Management Department report said.
Four deaths were reported till Sunday evening from Araria (2), Sheohar (1) and Kishanganj (1).
According to a Water Resources Department bulletin, five rivers — Baghmati, Kamla Balan, Lalbakeya, Adhwara and Mahananda — are flowing above their respective danger levels at various places in the state.
The Baghmati river is flowing above danger mark at five places including Dheng, Sonakhan, Dubbadhar in Sitamarhi while at one place at Benibad in Muzaffarpur district, it said.
A Patna Meteorological Centre official said a heavy rainfall warning has been issued for Supaul, Araria, Kishangaj, Purnea and Katihar till tomorrow.
The Disaster Management report said that 25,66,100 people have been affected by flood waters in 77 blocks of 12 districts — Sheohar, Sitamarhi, East Champaran, Madhubani, Araria, Kishanganj, Supaul, Darbhanga, Muzaffarpur, Saharsa, Katihar and Purnea.
Saharsa, Katihar and Purnea districts are the latest addition to the list of the districts marooned.
Three of the five children who lost their lives in the East Champaran district died when they had gone to see the rising water level in a canal near their village Jaisinghpur. Two others died while playing near a ditch filed with flood waters in Budhwa village.
The Disaster Management Department report said 26 teams of the National Disaster Response Force and the State Disaster Response Force have been deployed for carrying out relief and rescue operations in the affected districts.
Besides, 796 personnel and 125 motor boats have been deployed in the relief and rescue operation.
The report said that 196 relief camps are operating where 1,06,953 people are taking shelter while 644 community kitchens are being run.
Chief Minister Nitish Kumar conducted an aerial survey of the flood-affected areas in Araria, Kishanganj and Katihar during the day, an official release said.
It said the CM held a meeting with District Magistrates of Purnea, Araria, Katihar and Kishanganj at Chunapur airbase in Purnea to review the flood situation and directed them to carry out relief and rescue operations.
Chief Secretary Deepak Kumar, Water Resources Department’s Additional Chief Secretary Arun Kumar, Disaster Management Department’s Principal Secretary Pratyaya Amrit and CM’s Principal Secretary Chanchal Kumar accompanied the CM during the aerial survey.
The CM had also held a high level meeting to review the flood situation in Patna Sunday and later conducted an aerial survey of flood affected areas of Darbhanga, Madhubani, Sheohar, Sitamarhi and Motihari (East Champaran) districts.
Directing officials to expedite relief and rescue operations, Kumar asked the Principal Secretary and the Secretary of Rural Works and Road Construction Departments to carry out aerial survey to take stock of the situation.
He also asked them to restore the road connectivity which was snapped due to flood waters, the release said.
The CM asked officials to open relief camps and community kitchens as per requirement and ensure availability of good quality food, safe drinking water and cleanliness at camps, besides fodder for cattle.
The CM himself is keeping a close tab on the situation, the release said, adding that effective measures are being taken in affected areas.
The issue of worsening flood situation was raised in the state Assembly too with opposition RJD alleging that the NDA government has failed to tackle the flood situation in the state.
RJD and CPI(ML) members wanted a debate on the flood situation through an adjournment motion. It was rejected by Speaker Vijay Kumar Choudhary which prompted opposition MLAs to rush to the well of the House and raise anti-government slogans.
The Speaker expressed concern over the flood situation. “I have suggested that there should be a debate on the issue if the House agrees…The Parliamentary Affairs Minister has also said that the government was in favour of it.”
During the Zero Hour, RJD MLA Abdul Bari Siddiqui claimed that the Nitish Kumar government was inept at handling the flood situation.