JANKINAGAR (North Bihar): The hour for rescue of the victims of the Kusaha barrage breach is drawing to a close and it is time for relief and rehabilitation. But for a few places, where the army and the navy are striving to reach out to the still untouched places, operations are winding up most of the places.
The boats of the security forces and a few voluntary agencies are returning with fewer people. What was an unending stream of the dishevelled and the emaciated is now giving way to a small number of the relatively well-off. Perhaps they are those who had more assets to protect from night-time boat bandits and enough stocks of food and water to remain perched on their pucca houses till now. The monotony of living with only water for miles all round broke their resolve and they have now opted to step into normal society.The worst is over
Near the Madhepura-Purnea border and in Araria district, the army and the navy are loading their boats on tractors that will plough though 15 km of swampy territory to enter areas that could not be reached earlier. Elsewhere the worst is over, as far as rescuing marooned people is concerned. And the second chapter of the tragedy caused by the negligence of the barrage will begin to unfold. It will be about pestilence and displacement of those who were rarely educated about the outside world.
Cramped in government-run camps and in tiny makeshift bamboo huts covered over by tarpaulin, hundreds of people are becoming distressed of the monotony of the same food doled out twice a day, the humid, electricity-devoid survival, limited access to clean drinking water and the absence of cash to purchase bits and pieces like hair oil, soap and spices. Many are gingerly venturing to cities since their land is still under water and could continue to do so. Others are falling sick.Bodies stuck in marsh
And the government is yet to account for the dead bodies of the dead and carcasses of cattle. Some were swept away into the Ganges, which is fortunate. But other corpses are stuck in the marsh which will spell disaster for the area, say doctors manning security forces’ health camps. Bodies lying in water tend to bloat and if left unattended burst, dispersing disease and more bereavement.
Relief camps run by Ram Vilas Paswan, Sri Sri Ravishankar, Asaram Bapu, North Bihar Bacaho Samiti, Pappu Yadav et al run empty and come to life when news of the arrival of the main sponsor gains currency.
But government operated camps are seeing a waning of interest by voluntary bodies or donation of items like clothes that are left untouched in rain soiled heaps on the roadside.
“What we need is bleaching powder to sprinkle in areas where these people defacate. More is needed when the bodies start surfacing. People should also give medicines to counter diarrhoea, jaundice and dehydration,” Col. Shahnawaz of the Madras Regiment tells volunteers from Satyam Computers, Mahindra & Mahindra and the Marwari Yuwak Sangh.
Sitting on a raised platform while the water gushes underneath, the Colonel is still busy. Several thousands have refused to be evacuated and they now need medicines to keep on living. India rose to help the people of north Bihar when they turned to their countrymen for a helping hand. They now require a continuation of the initial enthusiasm that ensured that their faith was not misplaced.
6 months ago