Patna: After an initial fear of drought-like situation this year, Bihar is facing floods following heavy rains. The water level of all rivers are rising, triggering inundation of several towns and rural areas. Authorities have issued flood alert and schools have been closed in three districts- East Champaran, Araria and Kishanganj in view of the waterlogging situation, officials said on July 13.
Half a dozen people are feared to have drowned in rivers, canal and waterlogged ditches in East Champaran,West Champaran, Araria and Sheohar, the officials said. In view of rising water level of the rivers, the state water resources department has issued flood alert in the flood-prone north Bihar districts bordering Nepal.
With heavy rainfall recorded in the districts and the catchments areas in neighbouring Nepal, the water levels of the Koshi, Gandak, Bagmati, Budhi Gandak and Ganga rivers have been rising to dangerous levels for the last twenty-four hours. Heavy rainfall has been reported in East Champaran (214.92 mm), Sitamarhi (154.55 mm) and Muzaffarpur (125.15 mm) in the last 24 hours.
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“The Gandak river is nearing the danger mark at some points in West Champaran district and Koshi is also in spate in Supaul district. Bagmati is showing rise in its water level in Sheohar district. Similarly, the water level of Koshi and its tributaries is on rise in Shaharsa and Khagaria districts,” an official said.
According to officials, river water gushed in dozens of villages in West Champaran and East Champaran. In Motihari, the district headquarters of East Champaran, incessant rainfall for the last four days has resulted in waterlogging in the entire town due to failure of drainage system. “Motihari has been submerged in water. This has forced district magistrate Raman Kumar to shut the schools and other educational institutions till July 15,” district disaster officer Anil Kumar told NewsClick.
Similarly, the district administration have shut schools in Araria and Kishanganj after river water entered villages and small towns. Railway tracks of Jogbani railway station in Araria are submerged in water, which has disrupted train movement since Friday, July 12.
In Muzaffarpur, rising water levels in Bagmati, Gandak and Budhi Gandak rivers have inundated dozens of village in Aurai, Katra and Gaighat blocks. In the last 24 hours, flood waters entered new areas, snapped road links and washed away small bridges and diversions. At some places, the road is under four to five feet of water.
Muzaffarpur district magistrate Alok Ranjan Ghosh has appealed to the people living in low lying areas or adjoining flooded villages to move to safer places. More than 159 villages have been identified for rescuing the marooned people. In more than 150 villages in Supaul, Sheohar and Sitamarhi districts people have been forced to abandon their homes.
“Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has directed to keep everything fully prepared to launch relief and rescue operations in districts likely to be affected by floods,” an official of the disaster management department told NewsClick.
Bihar's Water Resources Development Minister Sanjay Jha told the media, “There is no need of panic and fear among the people as state government is alert. All embankments are safe and there is no need to panic.”
Also read: Bihar Floods: Death Toll Rises to 119, Government Yet to Wake from its Slumber
He also said that the eastern Kosi embankment, which had breached in 2008 flooding five districts of northern Bihar, is totally safe. "The embankment was strengthened and breach repair work has been completed," he added.
In 2008, more than three million people were rendered homeless in Bihar when the Kosi river breached its bank upstream in Nepal and changed course. It was said to be the worst flood in the state in over 50 years.
According to the Bihar Disaster Management Minister Chandrashekhar, the department has put its rescue and relief teams on high alert in flood prone districts of Koshi region to face any situation. Official sources said engineers of the water resource department have been directed to keep a vigil on the vulnerable embankments. The fear of a repeat of the devastating 2017 floods is haunting thousands of people in the region from where Kosi flows, following a record water discharge into the river from Nepal.