The flood situation in Bihar deteriorated on Wednesday as waters from overflowing rivers originating in Nepal inundated fresh areas and the number of affected people rose to 66.60 lakh across 16 districts, a government bulletin said.
Chief Minister Nitish Kumar made an aerial survey of the affected areas of north Bihar and visited a village in Darbhanga district, which has been hit by the calamity.
According to the disaster management departments bulletin, the death toll in flood related incidents remained at 19 as no fresh casualty was reported.
The size of the flood-affected populace, however, grew by nearly three lakh since Tuesday and the number of panchayats hit by the calamity was 1,165, a rise of 13.
The number of people evacuated from badly affected areas, till date, was 4.80 lakh, the bulletin said.
Meanwhile, the chief minister set off for an aerial survey of various embankments situated along the rivers in spate which continued for an hour and a half before his aircraft landed at Darbhanga airport.
Darbhanga is the district worst-hit by the deluge, accounting for seven deaths and 18.71 lakh affected people.
The CM visited a school in Makhnahi village which has been converted to a relief camp-cum-community kitchen. He interacted with the inmates there and enquired about the facilities they were receiving.
Holding a tray full of biscuit packets, Kumar offered these to the children of the 15 families staying in the camp with his face, covered with a mask, betraying a broad smile.
He expressed satisfaction upon being told by the district magistrate concerned that social distancing and hand hygiene were being adequately taken care of at the camp.
Kumar was informed that more than 700 people were being fed daily at the community kitchen and the facility of "take away" was also being extended to the affected people to avoid overcrowding.
The CM was also told that a sum of Rs 6,000 had been transferred to the bank account of each family taking shelter at the relief camp.
He directed officials that antigen and RT-PCR tests must be conducted on all inmates at the relief camp to check the spread of COVID-19.
Kumar, who was flanked by top officials like Chief Secretary Deepak Kumar and Principal Secretary for Disaster Management and Health Pratyay Amrit, also inspected a couple of construction sites nearby, where he distributed facemasks to those involved in the work.
Nearly 10 lakh people are being fed at 1,379 community kitchens across the flood-hit districts, the bulletin said.
Meanwhile, the news of inundation of inhabited areas in these districts seems to be reaching far and wide.
Bollywood director Neeraj Ghaywan of Masaan fame tweeted a photograph Itwa Shivnagar, Sihol in Darbhanga tagging the district magistrate, the local All India Radio station, the Indian Air Force and the NDRF.
"Flood water is filling up in this low-lying area and the villagers say there is no help from the state so far. Requesting urgent assistance," Ghaywan said in the tweet.
Water Resources Minister Sanjay Kumar Jha, a close aide of the chief minister, took note of the post and replied, I have talked to Darbhanga DM and briefed him about this issue. He has assured to do the needful. Appreciate your patience.
The filmmaker seemed pleasantly surprised by the prompt response and reverted with a thank you followed by a Namaste emoji.