Floods Destroy Indian Homes, Crops; 1.7 Million People Affected

Floods in an eastern Indian state destroyed homes, damaged crops and swept away roads this week, forcing authorities to airdrop food to some of the 1.7 million people affected and rescue others by boat.

Monsoon rains lashed three districts of West Bengal, M.L. Meena, principal secretary for disaster management, said by telephone from the state capital, Kolkata. At least four people have died in the flooding, he said.

The monsoon, which accounts for four-fifths of annual rainfall and runs from June to September, triggers floods every year.
Rains have resumed after a two-week dry spell in early August. The monsoon may be the weakest since 2002, officials from the India Meteorological Department say. Drought in 278 of India’s 626 districts has damaged crops.

In West Bengal, 34,000 people have been moved to relief camps or safer locations, Meena said. “The situation is improving” as the Damodar Valley Corporation has restricted the discharge of water from its reservoir, he said.

In neighboring Orissa state, 10,000 people in five villages in Balasore district were affected by flash floods, the Press Trust of India reported, citing officials it did not name.

Rains have also inundated parts of Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat and Karnataka states.

At least 992 people have been killed in floods this year with 6.2 million people affected nationwide, the home ministry’s National Disaster Management unit said on its Web site. Nearly 783,620 hectares of agricultural land and 74,803 homes have been damaged.

To contact the reporter on this story: Bibhudatta Pradhan in New Delhi at bpradhan@bloomberg.net.

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