Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Tuesday met Prime Minister Narendra Modi here and requested him to send a team of experts to assess the “unprecedented” situation in the State and prompt action on a national silt management policy.
“The very serious condition that we see today never occurred earlier. The only way to get rid of this is through desiltation. There is a need for national silt management policy,” he was quoted by news agencies as saying. He also expressed concerns that the Farakka barrage in West Bengal had led to silting in the Ganga and exacerbated the floods in Bihar.
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, Mr. Kumar, had said 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,” Mr. Kumar had said, before 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.
Lucky to have Ganga at your doorstep: Lalu
While Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar met Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday seeking the Centre’s help in flood relief, his ruling alliance partner and RJD chief Lalu Prasad Yadav told flood victims they were lucky to have the Ganga coming to their doorstep, affording them an opportunity to get Gangajal (holy Ganga water) at home.
At a relief camp, Mr. Prasad told victims: “You’re lucky that river Ganga has come to your doorstep and you got the opportunity to get the holy Ganga water at your home.