Mumbai/New Delhi: Distressed over floods in Assam and Bihar, showbiz personalities such as Adil Hussain, Pankaj Tripathi and actor-politician Shatrughan Sinha are demanding a permanent solution to the annual cycle of deluge and destruction in their homelands.
Floods have killed more than 100 people in Bihar and affected more than 80 lakh in 12 districts. In Assam, the toll is nearly 70 with 28 lakh people hit in 19 of the state's 33 districts.
Patna-born Sinha said it is as if a bad omen is upon his home state, which was reeling under the effect of an encephalitis outbreak, extreme heat and now floods.
"This happens year after year. But this is not the time to play the blame-game. It's time for remedy, relief and compensation. People have come out on the streets and are living in the so-called shelter homes with minimum or no facilities. It's pathetic," the veteran actor-politician told PTI.
"People are suffering. We have to think of a permanent solution to the existing problem. Sooner the better. We need immediate help relief and permanent remedial measures," he added.
Hussain, who belongs to Assam's Goalpara district, said the country has not been able to come up with a "concrete plan" for tackling the problem even 70 years after Independence,
"Since India claims to be more wise in terms of its technology and we have more resources as we are growing economically as a power and since the entire world has more hands-on and evolved ideas vis-a-vis problem-solving, why is it that we have not come up with a concrete plan...?" he asked.
"The plan now has to incorporate the fact that climate change is real. There will be more unpredictable showers and rains in a limited period of time. We need to find out how it can be channelised as you cannot control a river in its entirety, it can only be channelised so that if none, fewer lives are affected by the floods," the actor told PTI.
Hussain said every year there is a flood-like situation in Assam and the authorities need to find a permanent solution.
The problem has reached our doorstep and we are "unintelligent" if we don't realise it, he said.
"Maybe it has not yet come to your doorstep but it will come to your children's doorstep in future. This also means we have stopped loving people and our country. We are not patriots and not worthy of calling ourselves responsible citizens," he added.
Tripathi, who hails from Bihar's Chhapra district, also called for a long-term solution to tackle floods in his state.
The actor underscored that an individual may contribute through the CM relief fund, but eventually it is the state machinery which has the power to bring about a change.
"At an individual level, we can contribute to the CM's flood relief fund. But every year floods will happen and a relief fund will be started. A permanent solution is needed. Either we make our dams stronger or revive the network of canals. In Bihar, there are also areas which are dry," he told PTI.
National Award-winning filmmaker Rima Das, who belongs to a village in Assam's Kamrup district, said she has been seeing the devastation and destruction caused by floods since she was a child.
"Lives are lost, livelihoods affected, homes are destroyed, animals are washed away. While we can't control nature, I feel there's so much we can do to minimise the damage. Interlinking of rivers, building on multiple smaller dams are some of the solutions professionals have suggested. It's time professionals, administration and people put aside their differences and come together for the larger cause," Das told PTI.
Actor-TV host Shekhar Suman, who belongs to the Bihar capital Patna, said floods can no longer be passed off as a natural catastrophe by both state and central governments.
"We can't just pass it off as a natural calamity, a catastrophe every time and say 'this is beyond our control.' This happens the world over but the consistency with which it has been happening in India and especially Bihar, where so many people lose their lives, it's a cause of great worry," Suman said.
Manoj Bajpayee, born in Bihar's West Champaran district, is equally anguished, asking people to come forward and donate as much as possible.
"But my question is: Is that a solution? Is that a solution to a problem which has been recurring for years. We have been doing nothing about it. No matter how much we donate or civilians come ahead and start putting in whatever they have, we have to look for long term solutions," he told NDTV.
A permanent solution is imperative, he said.
"If that means to sit with the Nepal authorities and sign some kind of treaty, then so be it," he added....