Its interesting, tragic and true. While the blame game for the Bihar flood continue and everyone scout'sfor the, the buck stops at the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh'soffice.
India has not seen a devastation so widespread and acute in recent years. The catastrophe, however, was not sudden as it seems.
One of the premier institutions of the country, IIT Roorkee, had warned around four years back in 2004 that the swing of Kosi to the east could take place any time. Unless corrective measures are taken, the study said people would be completely taken by surprise and loss of life could be very high.
The study was conducted by Prof. Nayan Sharma of IIT Roorke. The Core Group on Floods under the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) has been discussing the issue of Kosi for the last two and a half years.
If one wonders how the Prime Minister is to be blamed for the tragedy – the Chairman of the NDMA is none other than Prime Minister himself.
Despite the gravity of the matter, which involved Kosi, rightly termed as Bihar'ssorrow, no decision was taken. The result of the indecision is for all to see. Not just that. Prof Sharma is part of the Core Group on Floods under the NDMA and has been trying to pursue the government to create a high level dam on Kosi for the last 2.5 years but to no avail.
The ambitious NDMA had been constituted with much fanfare with the PM himself at the helm. However, given the way it has acted and its inability to provide logistical support, raises questions whether it has become another white elephant like many other government projects which lie only on paper.
At the fag end of the UPA government, there are several questions about schemes and projects launched by the prime minister, claimed to be one of the ?least? political of the present leadership.
NDMA is however, the foremost as its un-preparedness and laxity hurt lives of several lakhs of people.
Kosi'sbad history is common knowledge. In the last 200 years, it has been changing its course suddenly causing large scale loss of life and property all along.
Talk to any expert on recent floods, and all of them are of the view the Kosi'ssudden shift to east was bound to happen. Only when was the question.
They said Kosi has changed its course almost eleven times in the past and today the river is flowing where it used to flow in the year 1736 bringing with it coarse sand and gravel, rendering the fertile agricultural land almost barren. The initial reports suggest crops worth Rs 150 crore have been destroyed by the flood. It appears to be a rather conservative estimate. The figure is likely to go up.
The floods have brought multiple issues to be tackled.
At a time when ?re-building Bihar? appeared to be oncourse, mass migration from Bihar has started due to the Kosi'sfury. Packed trains coming from Bihar only showcase the problem.
The state government too has admited that the phenomenon has started on a rather large scale.
The floods have forced people of affluence to live a life of penury. The search for new areas for employment have begun on a mass scale.
Bringing the economic lifeline back to normal is quite an uphill task and unless the state machinery gears up to tackle the situation, mass migration will make things worse.
The food security of the state has been badly hit by the ravaging floods. While efforts were on to bring Bihar back to the frontline of Indian states in terms of development and prosperity, this has hit the backbone of the what was being considered a ?resurgent state?.
The Kosi fumed during the planting season, washing away seeds., means of livelihood including cattles. As the flood waters recede, the need for humanitarian relief is going up by the hour in view of the diseases afflicting the people. The fears of an epidemic are stark.
The tragedy, has been perpetuated it seems. the help of the political class. Grim situation, only compounds their agony.
Railway Minister and former Bihar Chief Minister Lalu Prasad has already hit the election mode. Losing no opportunity to hit out at his political bete noire and incumbent Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, the RJD chief has declared to make the floods an election issue. At a time when he should have used the Railways to provide succour to the victims, he has himself been asking people to raise slogans in his favour and denounce Kumar.
And in contrast picture this. Film star Sunil Shetty, has sent a team from his own water sports centre to undertake rescue operations in flood ravaged Bihar.
While the world was shocked to see the magnitude of the devastation and the tragedy that struck this part of Bihar, the last fortnight is also a witness to midless mudlslinging and war of words between politicians. This was one occasion where they should have done away with the political barriers and got together shown solidarity in bringing relief to victims, much time has been wasted to show each other in poor light.
Have this take on this pearl of wisdom from Union Health Minister Ambumani Ramdoss, known to have a view from smoking, drinking to homosexual rights – ?Bihar has been a centre of epidemics even before the floods. So it is nothing new for Bihar. They have cases of polio, they have cases of JE (Japanese Encephalitis), malaria is a problem, kala azar is a problem. All have been there?.
Can we do without them?