Kosi has been Bihar’s sorrow: State's history proves it

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(File photo, 2008 Bihar Flood)
With Nepal preparing to blast the debris accumulated in the Bhote Kosi river and possible threat of deluge looming large over Bihar, Chief Minister Jitan Ram Manjhi said the "situation may turn fearsome". An alert has been issued in nine districts across north Bihar. Centre as well as the state government, learning from previous mistakes, have shown preparedness to reduce the impact of the disaster.

Why did this situation emerge?

  • The situation of imminent flood developed after a massive landslide blocked the main course of Bhote Kosi River, a tributary of Kosi, at Jure in Sindhupalchok district of Nepal on Friday. The place is located north of Kathmandu and is around 260 km from Indo-Nepal border.
  • The landslide cut loose huge portions of surrounding mountains, which fell on the river and resulted in almost a km long dam on it.
  • As a result, a huge lake has formed behind it, containing 28 to 32 lakh cusecs of water and Nepal government is trying to blast it since then.
  • Bihar Government fears that a flash flood like situation would arise in the state after the debris is blasted by Nepali authorities. A 10-metre high wall of water could gush down the river when the accumulated water becomes free.
  • Nine districts in Bihar - Supaul, Madhepura, Saharsa, Khagaria, Araria, Madhubani, Bhagalpur, Purnia and Darbhanga - are under threat.

What is the present situation?

  • The Centre Government has said that there was no significant change in flow of water in river Kosi so far and it has shared all technical inputs with the state government and Nepal on the emerging situation.

No danger to Birpur barrage

  • The Birpur barrage, which has a capacity of 9 lakh cusecs of water, is out of danger as of now. As a precautionary measure all the 56 gates of the barrage have been opened to protect it if there is a very heavy flow of water down the Kosi.

What are Government's preparations?

  • Disaster Management Department Principal Secretary Vyasji said, "We have evacuated around 50,000 people so far, while many people have left the danger zone on their own. Around 1.5 lakh people inhabit this area."
  • 1,500 personnel of NDRF, 500 Army men and 400 personnel of State Disaster Response Force (SDRF) have been deployed to help in the evacuation. The forces are fully geared to tackle floods. Around 150 government boats have been kept ready in the nine districts.
  • The state government has opened 120 relief camps for human and 17 camps for cattle to accommodate the people being moved. All the camps and shelters have food, sanitation and medical facilities.
  • Helicopters have been requisitioned from the Air Force. They are on standby at Bihta and Chunapur airbases in Bihar and will be used in rescue operations. NDRF Director General Mehboob Alam is camping at Bihta near Patna to monitor the situation.
  • 500 more personnel are ready to be airlifted from Bhatinda in Punjab, the moment they are needed in Bihar.

Bihar has a long history of floods

Bihar is the most flood-prone State of India. Around 76% of the population in the northern Bihar is living under the recurring threat of flood devastation, which on an annual basis destroys thousands of human lives apart from livestock and assets worth millions.

2013 Bihar flood

  • Last year's flood was the most disastrous one after 2008 state flood. As per State Government's estimate around 201 people lost their lives and over 20 districts were affected. More than 5.9 million people in 3,768 villages in these 20 districts were affected.

Kosi flood 2008

  • The State witnessed one of its worst ever natural disasters in history when a breach in Kosi embankment at Kushaha in Nepal on August 18, 2008 had caused one of the most disastrous floods.
  • The river changed its course, killing hundreds of people and displacing around 30 lakh people. The incident also brought wide scale destruction in over 8 lakh acres of farm land.

2004 Bihar flood

  • It was one of the worst floods in State's as well as country's history in a decade. Around 885 people and 3,272 animals had lost their lives and nearly 21.2 million human were affected in 20 districts of Bihar.

1987 Bihar flood

  • Kosi, Bihar's sorrow, had wrecked havoc in 1987 and took lives of 1399 people and 5302 animals. Nearly 29 million people were affected across 30 districts in one of the most deadly floods in state's history. This flood caused an estimated loss of Rs 68 million due to damage of crops and public property.

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