Did the flood victims benefit from NDMA’s do’s and don’ts?

The jury is still out on how much alerts and advisories on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook helped the flood victims. But Bihar Government officials say everything is ‘under control’

PTI Photo
PTI Photo

Ashlin Mathew

“Everything is under control. It was known that there would be floods, but we didn’t know that it would flood like this. How could anyone guess? This is not a manmade disaster. This kind of flood is beyond one’s imagination. It has affected 16 of the 38 districts in the state. Until August 17 evening, 98 lakh people have been affected. By August 18 evening, the number will cross 1.20 crore,” said Anirudh Kumar, Joint Secretary, Disaster Management Department.

The flood in Bihar is likely to worsen in a few days. The water level of Ganga is close to the highest flood level and the levels in its major tributaries such as Kosi, Mahananda, Rapti, Bagmati, Gandak and Kamlabalan are close to or have crossed the highest flood levels simultaneously.

Even the NASA flood forecasting site, it appears, had predicted a deluge in the Ganga basin and rainfall in excess of 175 mm. But neither NASA nor our own Meteorological Department’s warnings appear to have had any effect on the Centre or the state governments.

Even the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) claims to have issued flood alerts, warnings and do’s and don’ts on Twitter, Instagram as well as through newspaper advertisements in Bihar in July.

Whether they helped the 10 million people affected by floods in Bihar so far is of course a different issue altogether.

“We supplement the efforts of the state government. We have stationed 27 National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) teams in Bihar. The IMD and CWC have been issuing advisories. We are in constant touch with the state governments. We provide them with relief resources including helicopters. We began issuing advertisements even before the flood season began,” said RK Jain, member of the National Disaster Management Authority.

“The flood awareness activities begin in June. We have been putting out Do’s and Don’ts during the flood every day on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook since June. On All India Radio, flood-related awareness programmes were held from June 5 to June 20. Even in cinema halls, different educational videos on the flood are shown before the start of a movie,” said Dhirendra Singh Sindhu, Joint Advisor – Operations, NDMA. The only question that needs to be asked if those affected by the floods are those who have active social media accounts.

The NDMA begins its pre-monsoon activities with a review meeting in April with all the flood-prone states. “We follow it up with on-ground activities including the release of advisories including one for urban flooding. During monsoon, the data shared by IMD is given to the concerned state at least four times a day,” added Sindhu.

Last year Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar had blamed the Farakka barrage on Ganga river for the floods. He had demanded the Centre to decommission the barrage stating that it caused floods every year. The barrage has been blamed for the siltation, drainage congestion and backwater flood in the region. “This year let us see what he says, now that he has sided with those in the Centre,” quipped an expert. If the upstream dams such as Bansagar in Sone basin in Madhya Pradesh and Tehri in Uttarakhand decide to release water as they are almost full, this would add to the crisis, he warned.

Nasa flood forecasting website - https://trmm.gsfc.nasa.gov/publications_dir/instant_2.html

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Published: 20 Aug 2017, 8:05 AM