Almost every year, this happens, and perhaps will continue to happen in years to come. Thanks to almost negligible disaster management system in Bihar and unfriendly gesture from Nepal that releases lakhs of cusec of water. This year too, Nepal reportedly discharged around 2.5 lakh cusec of water into Kosi. Can anyone talk to Nepal? Not really, till Rachanda is in the hot seat. Listen: officials of the Flood Control Cell blamed the increase in water level of Nepal's rivers for the flooding of rivers in North Bihar. Nothing new. Nepal has been doing it for a long time.
A reader from Kochi writes in a newspaper, “unfortunately, flood management seems to be nowhere in the agenda of governments. What is important now is to think of measures to prevent the recurrence of such a tragedy. If China could tame the ferocious Yangtze river, there is no reason why India cannot tame the Kosi or the Godavari. What is needed is a commitment to the cause.”
In childhood, we read: Kosi is the sorrow of Bihar. People of that part of the world are feeling it. The report says that Kosi breaks an embankment just before the Bhimnagar Barrage in Nepal. This time at least 123 people when report last came in, engulfing about 500 villages in 16 districts, and affecting more than 30 lakh people. The worst hit districts are Supaul, Saharsa, Madhepura and Araria. And to add insult to the injury, heavy rains inundated fresh areas in Bhagalpur, Begusarai, Katihar, Samastipur and Khagaria districts. Road and rail traffic has also been disrupted at several places. Government says almost 250,000 acres (100,000 hectares) of farmland is under water, destroying wheat and rice.
Our Water Resources Department Minister Vijayendra Pd. Yadav said that the embankments on various rivers in the state were safe, while local media in Patna reported that the swollen Rato River made a 100 feet long breach in an embankment at Srikhandi under Sursand block in Sitamarhi district, inundating more than 200 villages. From Delhi, things do not look as grim as from the spot where people are wading through neck deep-waters.
The PM made an aerial survey, called it a national calamity and announced Rs. 1,000 crore. But how much from this money will reach the beneficiary is not without doubt. We have had past example. In Bihar, natural calamities come as a boon to the officials who make merry with the sarkari money, and people’s plights are at the mercy of those officials, who will throw some out of the bulk once their bellies are filled.
My heart goes to the people. Only they can fight themselves. I have faced floods twice and I can understand how it feels when surrounded by waters from all sides and no one to rescue. In darkness, life shivers at the mercy of unknown threats. Some can turn to God, some to government, and yet some to glimmer of hope. At we can pray for them, help them with whatever we can and give them strength in the hour of sorrow.
We will continue to listen to the deaths, damages, losses and speeches in days to come. But once the water would start receding and problems ebbing, other problems will surround the affected lots. In fact, the aftereffects will be no less threatening: rehabilitations will be a daunting task, and waterborne- ailments like diarrhoea will hit them hard.
Can anyone change the age-old perception that Kosi is a sorrow of Bihar? Not at least the leaders, who seem far greater a sorrow of Bihar than Kosi. Believe it