Tired from the Baidyanath dhamyatra (pilgrimage) in the nearby town of Deoghar, Nunlal Kamath is stealing a quick nap on a charpoy outside his house. His house is right on the western bank of Kosi, north Bihar’s river of sorrow, in a particularly flood-prone area where there are no high grounds or flood platforms nearby.
“When I was a boy, a family and their livestock could feed on just one crop for three years,” says Jugal Mandal of Sakhwar village in Darbhanga district. “For the last five years though, the village fields have been fallow because we have not had water,” he adds.
Bihar is no stranger to floods. The high-volume, high-velocity floods caused by large infrastructure projects regularly disrupt lives and decimate entire villages. This is the oft-repeated narrative, one of a helpless population as victims.
It's been years since Bhutahi Balan, a small tributary of the Kosi river in Madhubani, North Bihar, has been causing devastation on both its banks. Dinesh Mishra in his book 'Story of a ghost river and engineering witchcraft' objectively analyses the failure of embankments, which are raised banks to contain the river's flooding.
Notes on flood situation district-wise in Khagaria, Sahasra, Supaul, Madhubani, and West Champaran districts of Bihar.These were compiled by the Megh Pyne Abhiyan, a network of NGOs in North Bihar. (Due to the difficulty of the ground situation some inaccuracies may be present)