Jha blames bureaucracy for apathy in tackling Bihar floods

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New Delhi, Sep 15 (UNI) Chairman of the Special Task Force on Bihar S C Jha today decried the ''apathetic attitude'' of the Central and State government bureaucracy towards the flood-affected districts of Bihar, whose estimated figure for reconstruction and relief he put between Rs 25,000 to Rs 30,000 crores.

Mr Jha, who has just returned after examining the relief, rescue and rehabilitation work in the flood-affected areas of State, was aghast that little had been done to construct the embankments on the Kosi river, even though the efforts in this regard brooked no delay.

Addressing a Press Conference in Yojna Bhavan, Mr Jha, however, said Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was extremely keen to speed up work relating to the relief operations and a permanent solution should be found to tackle the recurrent problem of floods.

The five seriously affected districts by floods are Sahersa, Supaul, Katihar, Purnea and Madhepura.

Mr Jha said the Centre should have gone on a war footing to tackle the problem, but this was not the case.

Describing Kosi river as the 'Sorrow of Bihar', Mr Jha said he has also spoken to some State-run Banks, like State Bank of India, as well as the RBI to provide a special package for the people of flood affected areas by giving them a soft loan or a grant for the development work. He said he has received a positive response from them.

Besides, there was need for soft loan assistance for putting the marooned small and medium industries on a sound footing.

He said the animal husbandry sector also needs assistance of the banking sector.

Mr Jha said the Banks should not insist on collateral while giving loans in view of the special conditions prevailing in the State. ''I felt like crying after seeing the condition of the people in these districts. But the bureaucracy is not responsive'', he said.

Mr Jha said he has spoken to multilateral funding institutions like the World Bank and Asian Development Bank to provide loans to the State for rehabilitation and reconstruction work. While the funding agencies were keen to do so, the Ministry of Finance was acting as a ''stumbling block''.

''The flood has put Bihar ten years back. Three million people have been affected by the floods,'' Mr Jha said, adding that global warming was responsible for the floods in the country.

Mr Jha said lot of development work has been done by the State government in the last three and half years, but the gains have been wiped out by the floods.

He blamed the technical staff of the Central Water Ministry for delaying the reconstruction work and made out a case for tackling the issue on an urgent basis.

Mr Jha said he would have liked to meet Nepal Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal, popularly known as Prachanda, who is visiting the country to jointly work out a plan of action regarding floods, but the bureaucracy was creating problems in doing so.

UNI GS RR CS1715

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