As a large number of people reeled under the impact of floods, more than 26,400 were rescued by the National Disaster Response Force. The NDRF put together an emergency operation with 56 rescue and relief teams and had two Deputy Inspector General-rank officers in Bihar and UP monitoring the situation.
The order to open the Farakka barrage was seen as crucial. “I spoke to the Bihar Chief Secretary,” Shashi Shekhar, Secretary, Water Resources Ministry said. “We have directed that all gates of the Farakka barrage be opened. This should help somewhat in managing the flood.”
The Farakka barrage has 104 gates and they are being opened to manage nearly 11 lakh cusecs of water that have inundated Bihar and affected nearly 10 lakh residents in the past week.
On Sunday, Chief Minister, Nitish Kumar, had said that the Farakka barrage needed to be “removed” and a national desilting policy put in place to prevent flooding.
“It is not possible to protect Bihar from devastating floods without removal of the Farakka barrage on the Ganga,” Nitish Kumar said, before going on an aerial survey of the flood-hit districts.
The barrage, built in 1975 close to the Bangladesh border, was designed to transfer 1,100 cubic metres per second of water from the Ganga to the Hoogly to flush out sediments. However it has been controversial, with complaints that it is choking up the river’s natural flow and affecting aquatic life. The Centre says the States have to take a role in managing problems with the barrage.
People forced to move to relief camps in Bihar protested at some places as they could not get food and fodder. Many residents of Patna and adjoining Vaishali districts shifted to relief camps.
Similar protests by flood-affected communities in Nathnagar of Bhagalpur and Begusarai, Saran and Bakhtiyarpur were reported, over lack of government aid and relief.
In West Bengal, nearly 200 people were left homeless as an entire village in Malda district was submerged by the Ganga on Sunday.