With no food on their plate, people seek government help

Flood water enters Chanchalia village. (Image source: Umesh Kumar Ray)
Flood water enters Chanchalia village. (Image source: Umesh Kumar Ray)

For about last three weeks, Dhananjay Kumar along with his wife and children have been living on the embankment under their plastic shed following the late night July floods that submerged their house.

He tells the India Water Portal, "From the morning of July 20, water started spreading in the area. However, at the speed at which the flood water was rising, we felt that it would not spread much. But, at about 11 o'clock in the night, the water rose rapidly and entered our homes. We somehow managed to spend the night at home and came to the embankment in the morning with our belongings. We have been staying on the embankment since then."

Dhananjay Kumar is a resident of Chanchalia panchayat of Taraiya block in Saran district. After the advent of floods, a community kitchen was opened by the administration in the area. Locals inform that the community kitchen was started three days after the floodwaters entered the village, and was closed just few days ago.

Dhananjay Kumar informs, "The closure of the community kitchen has led to starving of the people as they have run out of whatever grains they were left with."

As per the local CO Virendra Mohan, “The floodwater has receded from the panchayat, due to which relief camp has been closed”. On the other hand, locals inform that houses have been inundated with up to three feet of floodwater.

Local head representative Krishna Kumar Gupta expresses his surprise at the closure of the community kitchen. He tells the India Water Portal, “People are upset with the closure of the community kitchen. They have nothing to eat. Everyday people come to us and ask for food. Taking note of people's worries, food is being prepared for 1000-1500 people daily at my house."

Like Dhananjay Kumar, thousands of people of North Bihar are forced to live under the plastic sheds being put up either on the embankments or along the highway, owing to the absence of relief camps.

The flood situation has worsened in Saran. Local people inform that floodwater has entered 15 more panchayats following the Gandak river breaching its embankment. An official of Saran district, on the condition of anonymity, informs that, to date, floodwater has entered 101 panchayats of Saran and 7.22 lakh people have been affected.

As yet, 24 people lost their lives in floods

At present, the floodwater has spread to 16 districts. According to data received from the Disaster Management Department, water has entered 1232 panchayats in 16 districts and 74 lakh 19 thousand people have been affected by the floods. Along with this, the floods have led to the death of 24 people and 66 livestock.

As compared to the number of affected people, the number of relief camps in the state are negligible and even these are decreasing day by day. Only seven relief camps are operational across the state. Of these, Samastipur, with five camps, has the highest number, while Khagadia and Darbhanga have only one camp each.

The floods have severely affected three districts-- Darbhanga, Muzaffarpur and East Champaran -- with nearly 4.5 million people being flood-hit. In Darbhanga, 20,02,100 people have been affected by the floods while 14.15 lakh in Muzaffarpur and 10.19 lakh people in East Champaran have been flood-hit. Along with this, 23 people and 63 livestock have died in Muzaffarpur due to floods. Despite the severe flood situation, not a single relief camp has been established in the latter two districts due to which people are facing immense hardships.

Rainfall alert

Floodwater enters a house in Chanchalia village Due to intermittent rains during  the past few days, the flood situation has become more critical in the state. Further, the Meteorological Department has issued a forecast of more continuous rains to come over the next few days.

So far, the monsoon rains in Bihar have been above normal and it is expected that this rainfall pattern will continue to remain the same in the coming days.

An official from Patna Meteorological Centre told the India Water Portal, "The monsoon entered the state on June 12 and 828 mm of rain has been received since then, which is 36 percent more than the normal. By 11 August, the state should have received 609.4 mm of rain.”

According to data received from Patna Meteorological Centre, as against the 1156 mm of rain received, Araria should have received 834.8 mm of rain in the same period. Darbangha received 1052 mm of rain instead of 542.5 mm, similarly, East Champaran received 1176.1 mm rain instead of 641 mm. Likewise, Madhepura, Muzaffarpur, Purnia, Shivahar, Sitamarhi and West Champaran have also received heavy rains.

Heavy damage to crops

Along with severely affecting people and livestock, floods and waterlogging have caused extensive damage to crops as well. Kamlesh Singh, a farmer from Muzaffarpur, says, “Owing to good rainfall in the beginning of the monsoon, I had sown paddy in 20 kathas. However, the heavy rains and floods have waterlogged the paddy field and the crop has been completely ruined.”

Abdus Sattar, Assistant Professor at Rajendra Prasad Agricultural University, informs, "Paddy crops don’t require much water at the time of their plantation. Waterlogging of paddy fields, for a long time, is very harmful for the crop. The way the monsoon is getting heavy rains this time, it is going to cause a lot of damage to the paddy crop.”

He adds, "The only benefit of the heavy rains to the farmers is that they will be able to sow the crop early in the next season. But right now, the paddy farmers will suffer a lot.”

Officials from Bihar's Agriculture Department inform that as per their assessment, up till now, 7.75 lakh hectares of crops have been damaged by the floods. Agriculture Minister Dr. Prem Kumar has told that people will be compensated for the crop loss within a month of assessing the losses.

Amid the floods, the Bihar government has once again accused Nepal for not providing any cooperation in the flood situation. On August 10, in a video conferencing with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Nitish Kumar communicated that there is no support from the Government of Nepal in completing the flood mitigation schemes. He further added that due to the non-cooperative attitude of the Government of Nepal, the implementation of the flood preventive measures were late by a month.

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


Post By: Swati Bansal