Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Updates from Chandan


A better day today, much better :)

The water level has gone down in Benibaad and Gaighat block (the area where the highway breach had occurred) , its good sunshine for almost two days now and things are looking much better.

State government machinery is now working well to deliver food grains and other relief materials to flood victims. This is something that really amazes me..I mean the kind of delivery mechanism the government has; in two days flat, meetings are held, priorities fixed and relief materials delivered. The best NGO's would struggle to keep up with this pace. It feels so good.

The problem this year was the timing. When the S.O.S came, the government machinery just stood transfixed, as if paralyzed. Why ?

Is it because the hierarchical chain of command is non functional/ unreliable, or because its not practical. Don't know, but they better figure out a system in which major decisions during a natural calamity is not person centric or post centric, and command centered in Patna. They should have been localized to panchayat, block and district level. The person in charge on the ground is in best position to judge the scale of calamity and take appropriate action.

Example to cite is the efficiency in which the DM took charge in Badhaiya embankment breach last week or 10 days back. He was there within 30 minutes of the embankment breach,and personally evacuating persons trapped there. The result; the buzz spread around, and army choppers were there within 2 hours of the breach. Some 100000 live stock are taking shelter now in the neighboring districts.What would have been the reaction time, if the DM was not present. Would the decision making capability of ADM or person in charge be clouded by the fact that DM is not there and he would accountable for any thing that goes wrong. You know, Gautan Gauswamy episode is not entirely forgotten. These things play on your mind.

In Muzaffarpur district, I.P.S officer, Ratna Sanjay, took charge immediately as flood waters started breaching in. He is working 24x7 since then to provide relief to the victims. He takes relief material to the most inaccessible comers of affected area..he has worked the whole unit up as a really well oiled state mechanism. The policing in Muz'pur district has been excellent.
And you go there and ask any person about this gentleman, and you hear them talk about him in very high regard.This is what we need.And may his tribe increase in our state.
Coming back to the current situation, the water level is receding. That means rotting vegetation,carcasses,human n animal excrete and lots of other rotting organic waste will be concentrated in a smaller area, and will be exposed to heat and humidity. Ideal conditions for diarrhea, cholera and other water borne diseases.
We have our work cut out. Chlorine tablets, ORS/ anti diarrhea medication. We are continuing to do so.
It was also a pleasant surprise for me when Mr.Ramnathan Anand (www. called up at 2.00AM yesterday from Mexico and informed that IFAW(International Fund For Animal Welfare) will be helping us to get fodder/medications/vaccinations for the affected livestock and stray animals,stranded and suffering because of the flood.
Personally I feel this is a very positive step towards putting our State on the International animal welfare radar. These guys are helping thousands of animals in distress throughout the world, and hence I had approached them through WTI to help us in Bihar. They accepted. This is a start, and also an indicator that there are donors who want to help us, but we have to approach them and put our case honestly.

Tomorrow, Dr.Ravi and Mr.Sanjay( Mr.Mishra's recommended volunteer) will take chlorine tablets to be distributed in their respective areas.Day after, I start working in Madhubani district.