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Flood situation remains grim in Bihar, no fresh casualties

twitter-logo PTI        Last Updated: August 2, 2019  | 22:22 IST

(Eds: adding details) Patna, Aug 2 (PTI) The flood situation in Bihar remained grim on Friday, with nearly nine million people affected by the deluge in 13 districts. No fresh casualties were reported and the death toll stands at 130, the State Disaster Management Department said. Water levels have started receding at many places due to a let up in rainfall which led the East Central Railway (ECR), headquartered at Hajipur, to allow restoration of traffic on the Darbhanga-Samastipur section a week after it was suspended. Sitamarhi and Madhubani remain the worst-affected districts, accounting for 37 and 30 casualties respectively and together, home to about 31.50 lakh people impacted by the floods out of the total number of 88.46 lakh, the department said. Altogether, 1,301 panchayat areas falling under 111 blocks of the flood-affected districts have been hit by the calamity. Of these, 235 panchayats each fall in Sitamarhi and Madhubani, followed by 211 in Darbhanga, which has also reported the third highest number of 14 casualties, it said. The ECR, in a release, said rail traffic, which had remained suspended since July 28 on the Danapur-Samastipur section following an alarming rise in water levels at the Hayaghat bridge, was restored on Friday afternoon. The New Delhi-bound Swatantrata Senani Express, which originates at Jayanagar in Madhubani, crossed the bridge at its scheduled time, the release said. More than a score of trains, both passenger and mail/express, had been either cancelled, diverted or short-terminated on account of suspension of rail traffic on the route. Situated in a remote, rural area of the district, the railway bridge is at present being guarded by RPF officials as locals were clambering upon the structure to click selfies and shoot videos, a Railway Police official said. He said a 13-year-old boy had drowned last week after he dived into the swollen river to save a friend who was taking a bath, while he himself was shooting a video from atop the bridge. District Magistrate Thyagarajan has also issued an appeal to guardians of youngsters to keep a close watch on their children and prevent them for going near water bodies during the floods. Last week, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar had also stressed on the need to spread awareness about the perils of venturing close to rivers, canals and lakes at a time when the state has been ravaged by flash floods. Relief and rehabilitation work is in full swing wherein the state authorities are being helped by the 9th battalion of NDRF, headquartered near Patna, which has pressed 19 teams into service. Reports, however, keep coming about flood-affected people venting their ire at officials whom they accuse of laxity, partiality or corruption in distribution of relief. The latest such complain was reported from Sitamarhi, where the district administration stated that an FIR has been lodged by the Circle Officer concerned against Jagannath Mahto, married to a panchayat member. Mahto has been accused by a number of residents of Janakinagar ward no 2, Singhvasini Panchayat, of demanding a bribe in exchange for providing them with flood relief. PTI NAC RBT IJT

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