The recent floods in Bihar have strangled the progress of IT in the state.
After decades of isolation, the state was on its way to seeing major
developments in the IT sector, with a lot of progress happening in its capital.
But there is little one can do to stop a natural calamity. The floods, caused by
a breach in the embankment of Kosi River, have left parts of the state stranded
and in a dismal state. With over 27 lakh people being hit by the flood, the
central government has finally come to the rescue.
After Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi
conducted an aerial survey of the area, the central government sanctioned Rs
1,000 crore for relief and 1.25 lakh tones of food grain for the affected areas.
While people continue to suffer in flood-hit Bihar, with food-riots erupting is
some areas, the local IT channel association-Bihar IT Association (BITA), has
come to the rescue of estranged computer dealers caught in the floods.
The association held an emergency meet last week to discuss the measures they
should take to help dealers in the affected districts. “On September 2 we held a
meeting to discuss a relief plan. We have started a Relief Fund to help dealers
in north and east Bihar and we have managed to collect Rs 1 lakh as donation
from dealers across Bihar. We expect the contributions to go up to Rs 5 lakh
soon,” commented Navin Gupta, Secretary, BITA.
With moral support from Dr Anil Kumar, the IT Minister of Bihar, major
distributors and vendors have come forward to help dealers in the flood-hit
regions contributing in the BITA relief fund. While hundreds of IT retailers and
dealers have been marooned on the little islands, Patna has been unaffected and
most of eastern Bihar is also a safe distance away from the floods.
|Flood victims get a meal at BITA's relief camp
There has been a total blackout in communication due to telephone and
electricity lines being cut off, and the cellphone lines have been jammed all
day. Moreover, there has been a massive scarcity of drinking water and food,
as most supplies at peoples home have been carried away by the floodwaters. A
conservative estimate prepared by the Bihar government has put the estimates
for the rescue operations at a whopping Rs 950 crore for seven districts
“The entire logistics and communication have been brought to a standstill.
Electricity, telephone lines and mobile communication towers have all been
rendered unusable resulting in a total communication blackout. All our supplies
are stocked in the storehouses at safe locations centered in Patna. But there
may be a major crisis in north and east Bihar in IT retail and supplies even
after the situation returns to normal, as the trucks carry all the stock will
not be able to enter these districts,” said Anjani Kumar, Branch-in-Charge (Patna),
There is also much apprehension regarding the news that soon another 1.75
cubic metric tones of water may be released from Nepal. Kumar emphasized that
Bhagalpur, which the floods have so far spared, may now be affected, and
Kharagia, which is already reeling under the floods, may come to a complete
standstill because of the halt in logistics and the new wave of floods.
“At this moment of crisis, it is our duty and moral responsibility to take a
stand to help our counterparts who are marooned. 800 people across the state
have come forward till now for the relief operations,” commented PK Sinha,
After changing its course, breaching the embankment in Nepal on August 18,
the Kosi River has now moved 120km East, inundating the lowlands on its course.
Among the worst affected areas is Madhepura district, where 378 villages have
been engulfed by the river, while 243 villages have been hit by the flood in the
Supaul district alone. Other affected areas are Araria, Saharsa, Purnea, Katihar
“Every year, the floods mildly affect the banks, but this time it is a
considerable phenomenon. We have a dedicated ministerial department in Bihar for
handling flood situations in Kosi and the central government sends huge grants
for repairing and maintaining the embankments along the Kosi, but this time, the
actions have been delayed and even the Kosi has changed its course,” share Sinha.
No estimate of the losses in IT retail as a result of the flood has been made
yet, but it is expected that stock losses, including pending contracts and the
disruption of the e-governance project in the affected areas may go as high as
over Rs 10 crore and losses in terms of logistics support may cross the Rs 1