"Everything’s devastated, and no one is listening to us!"

Surrounded by flood waters, and taking shelter at rooftops with a limited supply of food and drinking water, people of Bihar wait for the floods to end.
Floodwater enters Satjoda village of Chapra (Source: Umesh Kumar Ray) Floodwater enters Satjoda village of Chapra (Source: Umesh Kumar Ray)

"All of a sudden, water entered the house at night. Goods and cattle were submerged. There is no place to eat or drink. We have been in trouble for three days, but no one has come to help us.” The elderly Gauri Singh complains, with mixed feelings of anger, pain and helplessness. 

Gauri Singh lives in Satjoda village of Satjoda panchayat of Panapur block in Chhapra district. He is about 80 years old, but he has not seen so much water in his village since he last remembers. 

He informs,” Many embankments have breached this time, causing a lot of water to enter the village. All has been destroyed  by the floods, but no one is listening. The government does not even know that the flood water has entered our village.”

Shatrughan Singh of this village says,

“We are surrounded by flood water and there is no safe exit. It’s been three days that we are expecting help from the government, but we are unable to reach out to them. There is nothing to eat at home."

Locals have informed that on the late night of July 25, water entered the village due to sudden breach of embankments. People were sleeping, and had to suddenly wake up as they felt the movement of water. They hurriedly, tried to save all essential goods from getting washed away in water. Local ward member Ramkeval Kumar told the India Water Portal,

“People have taken shelter on the roofs of concrete houses. Food and water supplies are about to finish, but there is no help from the government so far.”

It is not the only the panchayat in Panapur block of Chhapra district where flood water is causing trouble for the people. Flood water has also entered more than half a dozen panchayats including Belor Panchayat, Totaha Jagatpur. Apart from Chhapra, 14.95 lakh people in 10 districts of Bihar (as of July 27) are severely affected by  floods. The flood water has spread over 625 panchayats across 11 districts and so far seven people have died due to floods.

Most of the people trapped in the floods have complained that government relief supplies have not reached them.

Embankments crashed at many places

Bihar submerged in waterIn most of the areas, breaking of embankments is the main cause of flooding and this is happening when the government claimed to have repaired the embankments ahead of time and conducted monitoring of the breach using drone.

There has been a lot of damage due to breach of embankment in Lahladpur-Tetria block of East Champaran. More than four lakh population of East and West Champaran are in the grip of floods.

With 5,36,846 people affected, Darbhanga is worst-hit by the floods. Even here, the embankment breach has caused the flood waters to spread. According to local sources, the panchayats of several blocks were submerged due to the breach of the Dumri-Guthali embankment on the Kamala Balan river which passes through the district. The embankment break at Sakra in Muzaffarpur has also led to flooding in several blocks including Bariarpur. In Kishanganj too, the flood situation has become critical due to the breaching of the embankment. The flood waters have penetrated many villages as the Kosi embankment broke down at Kadaba Diara in Bhagalpur. Similarly, water has entered many villages due to the breach of embankment at the Kareh River in Samastipur.

Air Force helicopter comes for the aid

With the entry of flood waters, many villages have lost contact. The administration has been  unable to reach these villages;. However, three Indian Air Force helicopters have been deployed now for distribution of relief material.

Chief Secretary of Disaster Management Department Amrit Pratyay said,

"On the appeal of the state government, help of three choppers was taken and relief material was distributed to the affected areas."

According to the information received, the helicopters were deployed in the three worst affected districts-- Darbhanga, Gopalganj and East Champaran-- and relief material distributed.

In Darbhanga, District Magistrate SM Tyagarajan did an aerial survey and distributed food items.

An official from the Disaster Management Department said, on the condition of anonymity that 25 teams of NDRF (National Disaster Response Force) and SDRF (State Disaster Response Force) have been deployed in the affected districts and so far 1,36,464 people have been safely evacuated and sent to relief camps. Community kitchens are also operational for providing food to people in the affected areas.

Movement to more than 500 roads disrupted

Many roads have been submerged while some have been completely damaged, due to the rising water levels and river erosion. This has resulted in many districts and villages losing contact with each other.

According to the information received from the Road Construction Department, movement on about 500 roads has been severely affected. Of these, 50 roads are from the Road Construction Department. According to a report published in Prabhat Khabar, the maximum numbers of affected roads are in Gopalganj and East Champaran.

It has been revealed that the movement has come to a standstill for a 650 km road in Gopalganj district, 200 km in Kishanganj, 200 km in Araria, 100 km in Supaul, 50 km in Purnia, 100 km in Katihar and 125 km in Darbhanga. Principal Secretary of Road Construction Department Amrit Lal Meena has said that the movement of vehicles on these roads will get started as soon as the water recedes.

Status of water level of the rivers

Due to the intermittent rains, the water level of major rivers in Bihar is still above the danger mark. The Ghaghra River is flowing above the danger mark in Darauli and Khadda.

Similarly, the Budhi Gandak River is flowing above the danger mark in Lalbegiyaghat, Ahirwalia, Sikanderpur, Rosda, Samastipur and Khagaria. A further increase in the water level of the river has been noticed at many gauge stations.

According to a bulletin issued by the Central Water Commission, the Bagmati river is flowing below the danger mark on the Dhenge Bridge, and its water level is expected to rise. However, the river’s water level is above the danger mark at Runnisaidpur, Beniabad, Hayaghat, Kamatoul, Ekimighat. Similarly, while Kamala Balan River is flowing above the danger mark in Jayanagar, its water level is below the danger mark in Jhanjharpur.

Known as the sorrow of Bihar, the Kosi River is also flowing above the danger mark in Balatara, Kursela, Dengraghat, Jhawa. Likewise, the Parman River is also flowing above the danger mark in Araria.

Your cooperation

In case you notice any cracks or other problems in the embankments in your area, then call the helpline number 18003456145 and share the information immediately.

You can also report on Twitter by tagging #HelloWRD, @WRD_Bihar (Department of Water Resources). On obtaining the information, the department will immediately inform the officials of the concerned area and prompt action will be taken.

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

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