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Manmohan assures help to flood-hit Bihar

By K. Balchand

PATNA, JULY 12. The Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh, has assured the Bihar Chief Minister, Rabri Devi, all possible Central help to address the problem of floods affecting over a dozen districts in north Bihar, claiming more than 37 lives.

The Chief Minister last night spoke to the Prime Minister over phone and apprised him of the grim situation where people are taking shelter on roof-tops and national highways without any cover from rain and proper food.

The Prime Minister sought a list of the requirements and promised to send the materials sought at the earliest. The State Government sought 10 lakh polythene sheets, 50,000 tonnes of wheat, an equal amount of rice, 5,000 tents and five rakes of fodder.

The State Government demanded more helicopters and motorboats. Relief operations had been hit following inundation of the Air Force strip in Darbhanga and all sorties were being made from the Patna Airport. Moreover, fresh areas have been flooded in north Bihar.

The State Government has cancelled leave for its entire staff and directed them to report for duty to tackle the floods and related problems. It has also warned against any outbreak of epidemic.

Darbhanga, Sitamarhi and Madhubani were submerged by floods owing to the release of 14.4 lakh cusecs of water from the Gandak barrage and two lakh cusecs from the Balmikinagar barrage.

The three districts continue to be cut off from the State capital. The situation in Sitamarhi is particularly bad with no telephone connection and power supply.

The people in Madhubani have gheraoed the Collectorate demanding relief.

Eleven more deaths were reported from Madhubani and two each from Supaul and Araria districts, taking the toll to 37 so far in the current spate of floods.

The movement of trains has almost come to a standstill in most parts of north Bihar. More than a dozen pairs of trains have been cancelled and over 10,000 passengers stranded at different stations with trains being stopped mid-way.

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