Bihar, UP Struggle to Move Reluctant Locals from Flood-Hit Areas

Villagers are not willing to be evacuated as they are reluctant to leave their homes for fear of looting.

2 min read
Residents of Birwar village is Saharsa, Bihar, leaving their village during the annual flood in Kosi. (Photo: Ajay Kumar)

Authorities in Bihar and Madhya Pradesh are struggling to evacuate more than 100,000 people stranded in villages after floods intensified, killing more than 300 and driving hundreds of thousands from their homes, officials said on Thursday.

The heavy monsoon has caused rivers, including the Ganges and its tributaries, to burst their banks, forcing over 200,000 people into relief camps in Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and Uttarakhand.

The deluge has submerged thousands of villages, washed away crops, destroyed homes and roads and disrupted power and phone lines, affecting millions of people across the five states.

In Bihar, one of the worst-hit regions, disaster management officials said villagers in some areas were not willing to be evacuated as they were reluctant to leave their homes, possessions and livestock for fear of looting.

We are asking them with folded hands, please come to the relief centres. Those who do not want to leave homes, their number is very large, probably more than 100,000 people. The water is rising downstream and we do not want people in those areas to stay in their houses.
Vyas Ji, Principal Secretary, Disaster Management

Since the monsoons began in June, more than five million people in Bihar have been affected and at least 127 people have died, mostly by drowning.

In the past week, 2.3 million people have had their lives disrupted and the death toll has reached 28. At least 107,000 people have taken refuge in government relief camps.

In Uttar Pradesh, at least 53 people have died and more than 1.8 million people across 29 out of total of 75 districts have been hit by the disaster.

Television pictures showed people wading neck-deep in water in Ballia district, while others took shelter on rooftops of multi-storey buildings.

Uttar Pradesh’s Relief Commissioner Dinesh Kumar Singh said rescue and relief teams from the National Disaster Response Forces had evacuated thousands of people in boats and the Indian Air Force was airdropping food packets from helicopters.

More than 90,000 people have been displaced from their homes and about 60,000 of them have taken shelter in relief camps. The good thing is there has been no rain over the last three days.
Dinesh Kumar Singh
Rescuers shift residents to safer places following floods in the River Ganges in Allahabad.  (Photo: AP)
Rescuers shift residents to safer places following floods in the River Ganges in Allahabad. (Photo: AP)

In many states the rains frequently cause landslides and flooding, which devastate crops, destroy homes and expose people to diseases such as diarrhea.

Authorities said there was no problem reaching flood-hit areas, but television pictures on Wednesday showed crowds of people in Bihar’s Patna district blocking roads and complaining of a lack of aid.

“We are in difficulty. We are not getting food,” a middle-aged woman standing on an embankment told Kashish News, a local Hindi station.

This article was published in an arrangement with the Thomson Reuters Foundation

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