New Delhi: The death toll in Bihar and Assam floods mounted to 198 on Thursday, with more than 1.17 crore people affected by the calamity in the two states, officials said.
In Assam, the death toll climbed to 75 with one more person succumbing in Dhubri, while water level rose in seven districts of the state.
Due to release of excess water from Kuricchu Hydropower reservoirs in Bhutan’s Kuricchu River, western Assam districts of Barpeta, Nalbari, Baksa, Chirang, Kokrajhar, Dhubri and South Salmara are facing rise in flood water level.
According to the Assam State Disaster Management (ASDMA), 34,92,734 people in 2,753 villages in 18 districts are affected by the deluge.
Flood water entered Bihar’s West Champaran, taking the total number of deluge-hit districts in the state to 13 on Thursday. But with no fresh deaths reported, the toll remained unchanged at 123, officials said.
West Champaran was inundated following torrential rains in the past few days, they said.
The Bihar Disaster Management Department said 82.12 lakh people under 1,241 panchayats of 106 blocks in the 13 districts were affected by the flood, and relief and rehabilitation work was going on in full swing.
An ex gratia of Rs 4 lakh was provided to the next of the kin of each deceased, while every family surviving the calamity was being given Rs 6,000 through direct benefit transfer.
Above-average rainfall predicted
The Indian Meteorological department, meanwhile, has predicted above-average rainfall over the next two weeks across the country. Despite floods in the northeast and Bihar, the country has received below average rains in the past two weeks.
However, on Thursday a weather department official told Reuters that there would be above-average rainfall, which would help summer-sown crops that were wilting in some areas due to a dry spell. Monsoon rains are crucial for farm output and economic growth as about 55% of India’s arable land relies on rainfall and agriculture forms about 15% of a $2.5 trillion economy.
“In the next two weeks, we are likely to get above average rainfall, which will be well distributed across the country,” said A.K. Srivastava, head of the climate research division at India Meteorological Department.
India’s monsoon rains were 35% below average in the week ending July 24, after receiving 20% less rainfall in the prior week, raising concerns over the output of summer-sown crops.
Overall, India has received 17% less rain than average since the monsoon season began on June 1, but in some states such as Gujarat, the biggest producer of cotton and groundnut, the rainfall deficit is as high as 42%.