All hopes lost for the flood-hit in Bihar

Havoc of floods in Saharsa (Source: Umesh K Ray)
Havoc of floods in Saharsa (Source: Umesh K Ray)

“We went through a lot of trouble over the month. By God’s grace, we are still surviving."

While describing his plight, the pain in the 43-year-old Prakash Mukhiya's voice is palpable. He was trapped in his thatched hut for more than a month in floods. Now that the water has receded, he is able to cook food in his house.

Prakash informed India Water Portal that, “From July 4, flood water started inundating the village, rose gradually, and entered our houses.

Since Prakash's house was thatched, water entered the house from all the sides. Owing to the absence of any relief camp nearby and inundated roads, Prakash opted to stay at home.

He explains, "My house has three thatched rooms and there are 14 people in our family. When the floodwater entered our house, we built scaffolds with the help of bamboo in all the three rooms and started living on it. Even the gas cylinders and stove were taken to the scaffold."

For the next one month, the scaffold became their lodging. Prakash lives in Tikulwa village in Mahishi block of Saharsa district. An official of Saharsa district said, “33 panchayats in four blocks of the district are in the grip of floods and a total of 3,36,307 people have been affected.” But, surprisingly, there is neither a single relief camp nor any community kitchen operational in the area where people can get food. As a result, people like Prakash have been forced to stay in their homes, while those who have pucca-roofed houses took shelter on the terrace.

Prakash is an agricultural farmer. He has 10-15 katha of land, on which he cultivates maize.

Ate roasted rice and corn

“We have been eating like this for about a month.” He further said, “There was only rice and maize in the house, so sometimes we ate roasted rice and sometimes we ate roasted maize. There was no flour, so we were unable to make roti. However, we cooked rice and ate after adding salt and maand (rice water) to it as getting vegetables was tough because the way to the market was flooded with water."

“We have lived like this for a month. Now after the water level has receded, we were able to prepare food properly. However, no government official came to assess our plight even once in these days, forget about the government help”, Prakash Mukhiya says with apparent displeasure.

Tikulwa village comes under Jhara Panchayat. Panchayat chief Manoj Ram tells the India Water Portal, “Our panchayat has nearly 2000 houses, out of which over 600 houses were flooded. For a month, the water levels kept rising and receding but now the water has exited the houses, while the village is still inundated."

Saharsa is a flood-prone district as the Kosi river passes through it. Kosi causes floods in a large part of North Bihar every year. This time, the river has caused floods in Supaul, Khagaria, Madhubani and Saharsa and locals have informed that this time the nature of flood is different.

This year, the floodwater is staying for long

50-year-old Naimuddin, a local resident of Tikulwa, tells India Water Portal, “Our villages used to get flooded every year, but each time the floodwater inundation was for only 2 to 4 days, but this year, for the first time in my life, I have seen water staying in the village for a month.”

Naimuddin informs, "This time, incessant rainfall occurred in Nepal and northern Bihar, due to which the region is experiencing heavy floods."

“Due to flooded roads and no government help, we were locked down at our homes for more than a month. We survived on the left-over grains and food in the house”, informs Moinuddin.

Village head Manoj Ram adds, "Information regarding the flood situation was given to the CO of the block. However, he informed that no government help could be provided due to lack of funds. It has been more than a month now and people continue to struggle with floods, but no government aid has reached them. Although a promise of providing Rs 6000 rupees each to the flood victims has been made, none of the people have received it yet.”

As of 20 August, 81.79 lakh people have been affected by the floods in Bihar and 27 have lost their lives. So far, 86 cattle have been killed due to floods. Out of the 81.79 lakh people affected by the floods so far, the government has been able to evacuate only 5.50 lakh people, while no data exists on the whereabouts of these people. Officials of the Disaster Management Department informed that five relief camps each are running in both Samastipur and Khagaria, in which 5186 people have taken shelter. In such a scenario, the question arises on what the remaining 5.45 lakh people have resorted to for their survival.

India Water Portal had reported earlier that due to lack of relief camps and government support, people are forced to take shelter on highways and embankments, under plastic sheds. Almost all the flood-hit districts are going through a similar situation.

Ganga river is in a turbulent state

Since the onset of monsoon in mid-June, there is a drastic rise in the water level of the Ganga river including other rivers in the state like Kosi, Gandak, Budhi Gandak and Bagmati.

Officials of the Disaster Management Department inform that 1.25 lakh cusecs of water has been released from Sonasagar Barrage in Son River in Madhya Pradesh, which will soon reach Patna via the Ganga River.

Due to the rise in water level of the Ganga, water has spread in Diara and low-lying areas. The water level of the Ganga river has been recorded at 48.60 meters at Gandhi Ghat in Patna, which is 11 cm above the danger mark. Similarly, the water level of Ganga has been recorded at 21 cm above the danger mark at Hathidah gauge station and 18 cm above Kahalgaon in Bhagalpur.

Sanjay Jha, Minister of Water Resources Department of Bihar visited Gandhi Ghat and other ghats in Patna and met other officials of the department to review the flood mitigation measures being carried out. However, he has ruled out the possibility of floods occurring in Patna.

At present, the flood situation continues to remain grim in North Bihar. The rivers in the region are still above the danger mark due to which the flood situation is expected to worsen further. Officials of the Disaster Management Department say that the water levels of the Bagmati, Budhi Gandak, Ghaghra and Gandak rivers are continuously rising.

In Katihar, two boats sank at different places. A boat carrying 12 people capsized in Kundi Dhar, a tributary of the Ganga river in Semapur. In this incident, three children have gone missing while the rest managed to swim. The second incident occurred in the Mahananda river, where a boat carrying 36 people capsized. All the people in the boat escaped safely, except for a girl, who is still missing. A team of NDRF has been deployed for the rescue operations.

You can read the article in Hindi here. Authored by Umesh Kumar Ray; Translation to English by Swati Bansal