Patna: Floods in Bihar have left nearly 1.5 million people in 12 districts struggling to survive under open skies, according to Special Secretary Sunil Kumar of the Disaster Management Department, even as state Chief Minister Nitish Kumar undertook an aerial survey for the second consecutive day.

The department said that flood water had entered more than 1,000 villages in 500 panchayats and rising level of most rivers threatened to inundate many others. The affected villages were in the districts of Bhagalpur, Muzaffarpur, Gopalganj, Munger, Begusarai, Katihar, Araria, Purnia, Saharsa, Darbhanga, Madhepura and Saran.

“The floods have badly hit Bhagalpur district,” an official said. Elsewhere in the state, thousands have been forced to take shelter on embankments, highways, in school and other buildings on high ground. Water entered these villages after levels rose in all major rivers following heavy rains in the state and the catchment areas of Nepal.

In 2008, over three million people were rendered homeless in Bihar when the Kosi river breached its bank upstream in Nepal and changed course. It was said to be the worst flood in the state in the last 50 years.

The government has promised to provide one quintal foodgrain to the affected and directed officials of flood-hit districts to open relief camps.

According to the Central Water Commission, the Ganges crossed the red mark at several places. Similarly, the Kosi was flowing above the danger mark and Mahananda at other places.

Standing crops worth crores of rupees have been damaged and road communication at several places has snapped.

“Rising rivers have badly hit paddy cultivation and destroyed standing banana and maize crops in Bhagalpur and other districts,” a commission official said.

Meanwhile, Bihar Water Resources Development Minister Vijay Kumar Choudhary said all river embankments were safe and there was no need to panic.

(Agencies)