Prime minister announced a relief package of INR 1000 crores to the flood victims of Bihar on 28th August. He termed the floods in Bihar as a national calamity. During an aerial visit to the flood prone area, Dr Singh along with Madam Sonia Gandhi and the powerless home minister, Shivraj Patil announced the release of 125,000 tonnes of foodgrain for the flood victims.
The administrative machinery has got its hands full with the task of evacuating millions of people who are at risk of being drowned. The situation is expected to worsen with the weatherman predicting incessant rains for the next 48 hours; this will effect help and rescue services. Also the threat of death due to hunger and spread of diseases looms large on the poor people of Bihar.
It all started last week, when river Kosi also known as the ‘river of sorrow’ changed its course due to a two kilometre long breach in the Kosi barrage embankment, such was the fury of nature that it destroyed everything in its path. It has displaced over 2 million people in 15 districts in one of the worst floods in recent memory, the districts worst hit are Supaul, Saharsa, Araria and Madhepura.
Lets switch over to the western part of India and a different story awaits us, droughts has gripped over 19 districts in Maharashtra. In Marathwada, a cropless kharif season is looming. Farmers are left with empty fields even as government relief measures are yet to pour in. The monsoon clouds seem to have drifted away from Maharashtra. 16 out of Maharashtra’s 34 districts have hit a serious dry patch, with less than 50 per cent of the rainfall they usually get by this time each year. The government has announced a drought like condition in the state.
Same country, but two radically different situations, some very serious questions arise here for the authorities who hibernate every year after the monsoons and wake up only once disaster strikes.
The 1000 crores that the prime minister announced could have been spent on building embankments and stronger concrete structures to prevent flooding along areas which are at most risk but like every year successive governments find this as an easier alternative than addressing the core issue.