Monsoon Floods Inundate Indian Villages, Croplands
THOUSANDS of people sought refuge on rooftops in northern India on July 20, waiting to be rescued from monsoon floods that have killed more than 450 people in three weeks. In the worst-hit states of Punjab and Haryana, which produce 80 percent of India's food grains, flood waters have destroyed crops worth tens of millions of dollars and left behind layers of sand and slime that may take months to clear.
The disaster has shattered the economy of Punjab. More than 988,000 acres of the Punjab's prized farm land have been ruined. The states, in northwestern India near New Delhi, the capital, are located on flat lands crisscrossed by river tributaries and irrigation canals. In the absence of a flood forecasting system, villagers were caught unaware by the rains, which were much heavier than usual.
Although the flood waters were receding from the inundated villages, thousands of people were still huddled on rooftops on July 20 waiting for Army motorboats to ferry them to relief camps. More than 85,000 people are sheltered in 78 relief camps operating in school buildings, temples, and even canvas tents, authorities say. The monsoons, or heavy rains, arrive in India in late June and early July and taper off by mid-September. In an average year, floods kill more than 1,500 Indians and wash away proper ty worth $300 million. UN Plans Cambodia Exit
The United Nations tentatively plans to withdraw all 22,000 UN peacekeepers, police, and administrators from Cambodia by Nov. 15. Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali said in a report to the Security Council on July 19 that 3,500 civilian police already have begun a gradual withdrawal, and a similar military withdrawal begins Aug. 1.
The UN Transition Force in Cambodia - one of the world body's largest peacekeeping operations - went to Cambodia to oversee May elections and the establishment of a constituent assembly in June. Its mandate ends on Nov. 15.
But the UN chief said that Cambodia will still need international help after the transition force leaves. "Cambodia still faces enormous problems of security, stability, mine clearance, infrastructure improvement, and general economic and social development," Mr. Boutros-Ghali said in his report. "The political-military situation remains fragile and the task before the new government will be difficult and challenging," he said.