Half the population of Bihar is affected by the floods. The areas in Seemanchal and Champaran have been especially devastated. Undoubtedly, the destruction caused has been manifold given that the state government made no preparations prior to the floods. Now that the flood waters have started receding, the extent of devastation caused is gradually becoming clear. Those affected by the flood are in need of urgent relief work however, the reports that are being received from the districts regarding relief work is highly unsatisfactory. Not only is the speed of the relief work extremely slow, the state government has imposed several kinds of conditions for providing relief packages. As a result, a significant population of those affected by the floods will not be able to benefit from the flood relief campaigns of the state. The intentions of the state government do not seem to be aimed towards providing relief to all. The worst affected by floods are always the poor.
CPI(ML) has protested since day one against the criminal negligence before and during the floods and also against the gross apathy towards the flood affected that followed. On one hand, pressure is being built on the administration through continuous protests, on the other hand, a relief campaign is also being organised. Fund collection has been organised across Bihar for the flood affected and camps were set up in several places. In three blocks of Gopalganj, relief camps were organised from 23-27 August by Bhagat Singh Yuva Brigade, a voluntary organisation of Revolutionary Youth Association (RYA). The flood affected were provided food in these camps and arrangements were made for their medicines and treatment. This camp was run by people through their initiative. Camps were also organised in Siktiya and Hasanpur in Barauli block; in Goraiyababa in Bekunthpur and Shahpur in Sighvalia block. In Gopalganj too, the attitude of the government towards the flood affected is one of absolute apathy.
In West Champaran, CPI(ML) activists organised relief campaigns in Bahuari Panchayat in Motihari block; Sugaon in Sugauli Block, and ward number 1 of Bhargaanva and Sugauli Nagar Panchayat. Rice and Dal were distributed among the flood hit people during these campaigns. In areas like Mainatod, Betiya and Sikta in West Champaran, common people organised relief campaigns for the flood affected people and to protest against the government apathy.
Protests continue against governmental apathy
In West Champaran, the flood affected people organised a demonstration at the Narkatiyaganj block office. They demanded that the flood hit people be provided with 2 quintals ration and Rs.10,000 cash; Sharecroppers and other farmers whose livelihoods have been destroyed should be provided compensation at Rs.20,000 per acre and their electricity bills and agricultural loans be waived; the discrimination in preparation of lists for relief work should be ended; Rs.20,000 should be given to those whose houses were destroyed in floods along and they should be provided with pakka homes and urgent provision of plastic. It was also demanded that to provide employment, MNREGA work and sand mining work should be continued. Medicines and presence of doctors was demanded in the health centres and subcentres. It is clear that all of these are absent in the relief being provided by the government.
The intention of the government is to somehow shorten the list of those who need relief, impose all kinds of conditions and fulfil a formality. The need however, is to organise the extensive relief work on a massive scale, without imposing any conditions.