Bihar chief minister rebuffs officials for 'misleading' him on drought situation in state

Facts and figures presented by officials do not match ground reality, says Manjhi; 22 districts face threat of drought

 
By Alok Gupta
Last Updated: Saturday 04 July 2015

Jitan Ram Manjhi took over as chief minister of Bihar in May after Nitish Kumar quit the post in the wake of the drubbing in Lok Sabha elections (photo by Prashant Ravi)

Bihar chief minister Jitan Ram Manjhi on Tuesday pulled up bureaucrats who reportedly tried to mislead him on  drought-like conditions in the state. Manjhi walked out of the meeting, accusing the officers of presenting fake figures on drought.

A visibly irate Manjhi cancelled the meeting on drought preparedness in the state.  He said he has personally seen drought-like situation in Patna and Gaya. The figures presented in no way reflect ground reality, he told the officials of departments of agriculture, irrigation, disaster management and finance.

Before leaving the meeting hall, he told the government officials to present the correct data in the next meeting on Friday.

Rain deficit: 50 to 70 per cent

Nearly 22 districts in the state are facing threat of drought due to delayed monsoon. "There is rainfall deficit of 50 to 70 per cent in 22 districts of the state," R K Giri, state IMD officer said. In many district farmers have not  sown paddy fearing low rains. The districts worst affected by rainfall deficit include Buxar (72%), Saharsa (70%), Kaimur (57%), Rohtas (53%), and Sheohar (47%).

The chief minister's anger also originates from recent CAG report tabled in the state Assembly that claimed massive insurance scam in drought-hit districts. The compensation for drought was given to fake farmers who possessed barren land.

Nearly 40 per cent of agricultural land in Bihar is drought-prone and another 40 per cent is flood prone. The compensation package to drought and flood hit areas remains controversial with complaints of compensation not reaching affected farmers.

A case if history repeating itself?

This is not the first time that the government officials have misled the head of the state with the ground realities of disaster. In 2008 Kosi floods, the then chief minister was misled into believing that the flood situation was under control. The reality was exposed when former prime minister, Manmohan Singh, made an aerial visit and announced the floods as a national disaster.
The Opposition parties in Bihar have, meanwhile, launched a vitriolic attack on state government for not tabling the Kosi Commission Report in the monsoon session. BJP leaders leaders pointed out that the report by Justice Rajesh Walia, explaining the reason for the devastating flood that displaced nearly three million people, was submitted in March this year.

Vijay Chaudhary, the irrigation minister, informed the house that the commission’s report is very long. “But we will discuss the 'action taken points' discussed in the report,” he said. He assured that the crucial part of the report will be tabled in the current session of the Assembly.

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