The unprecedented rains that battered Bihar in the last three days of September has cost 55 lives -- a jump from the last known figure of 42 -- the state government said today. Even two days after the rain stopped, the water level in Patna is yet to go down, triggering fears of epidemic. Today, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar admitted that the water pumps in the city are not working and said he would take the urban development ministry to task once the crisis is over - a remark seen as a dig at ally BJP, which have been openly critical of him over the waterlogging.
Over the last few days, carcasses of animals -- dogs and pigs that could not escape - floating across the city has given rise to huge health concerns. Although the civic officials have started has started removing the animal carcasses, their progress is slow.
Mr Kumar - who surveyed the pumping stations on Tuesday - today said 50 per cent of the pumps were not functioning till yesterday and now the water would be taken out "in the next few days". The work in the Urban Development Ministry is "far from satisfactory and a lot needs to be done," Mr Kumar said, assuring that he would monitor it personally in future.
The Urban Development Ministry has been under the BJP control since 2005, barring the time when the Nitish Kumar had ended the alliance. Over the last days, Mr Kumar has come under BJP attack over the waterlogging. Union minister Giriraj Singh and state BJP chief Sanjay Jaiswal have been openly critical of the Chief Minister.
Giriraj Singh, a former member of Mr Kumar's cabinet and a known detractor of the Chief Minister, had said the state government owes the people of Patna an apology. Sanjay Jaiswal had also spoken of the "negligence" of the administration.
Today, in face of critical journalists, Mr Kumar said, "I am dedicated to janhit (public welfare) and not to publicity. I don't believe in doing publicity and propaganda". Then, in a dig at his rivals, he said, "Those who don't work only do publicity".
The government today said the floods have hit 959 villages across 15 districts. Around 21.45 lakh people have been affected.
To help the people, 45 relief camps and 324 community kitchens are being run. More than 1000 boats ahve been pressed into service to evacuate the affected people.
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