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Bihar: Flood Situation Worsens with Rivers in Spate, Rail Services Affected

The official websites of the Bihar Water Resources Department and the Bihar Disaster Management Department are silent on the number of villages marooned or inundated and on people displaced and affected by the floods.
Bihar flood.

Patna: The situation in a flood-stricken Bihar has worsened in the last twenty four hours, with train services disrupted between Sugauli-Majhaulia stations under the Muzaffarpur-Narkatiaganj rail section due to waterlogging on the railway tracks. Flood water also entered several police stations,hospitals and dozens of new villages in nearly a dozen districts, following a rise in water levels of major rivers, officials said on Monday.

At a time when thousands of people across the state are struggling to cope with the floods ,the official websites of the Bihar Water Resources Department and the Bihar Disaster Management Department are silent on the number of villages marooned or inundated and on people displaced and affected by the floods.There is virtually no official update on flood situation in the state.

Senior BJP leader Renu Devi, who is also a deputy chief minister, is the minister in-charge of disaster management and while JD-U leader Sanjay Jha is the minister for water resources. Jha is considered close to chief minister Nitish Kumar.

As the India Meteorological Department's Patna division has forecast medium to heavy rainfall across the state over the next three to four days, the state government has alerted 28 of 38 flood prone districts. As per government officials, 12 districts are facing floods at the moment.

With water level rising in major rivers Bagmati, Koshi, Lakhandei, Gandak, Burhi Gandak and Kamla Balan, flood water has threatened hundreds of villages in East and West Champaran, Gopalganj, Muzaffarpur, Araria, Kishanganj, Sitamarhi, Sheohar, Madhubani and Darbhanga districts, officials from the disaster management department told Newsclick.

After the monsoon arrived in Bihar this year the state has received surplus rainfall so far (422 mm, 100 more than normal) in the catchment areas of major rivers in the state and neighbouring Nepal, has resulted in floods in low-lying areas.Thousands of people in hundreds of marooned villages have been displaced and have been forced to take shelter on nearby high-rise embankments, national highways,school buildings and other places.

Rajesh Kumar, a Railway official at the East-Central Railway Zone said that in view of the rising level of the Gandak river near the rail bridge between Sugauli-Majhaulia stations, concerned railway officials have also been asked to monitor the water level at vulnerable rail bridges in Samastipur railway division.

According to local reports the embankments of tributaries of the Gandak river were breached at several places.The breaches have created panic as flood water has rushed into new villages. Three bolder stud structures of the Gandak's embankment in West Champaran have been damaged.Several bolder stud structures were constructed to protect the embankment from the Gandak's waters.

According to officials from the water resources department, the pressure on embankments increased after barrage discharges of heavy water into rivers following heavy rains in the catchment areas in the last one week. The water levels of rivers have been a matter of concern as they are flowing near their danger levels at several places and threatening embankments.

The WRD has officially claimed that all flood protection embankments are safe.

After floods inundated their villages, hundreds of families in Gopalganj have been forced to take shelter on nearby high-rise abandoned embankments.The flood waters have damaged their mud and thatch houses. In several places, river water spread and submerged new areas. Water also entered several parts of small towns in the district and is flowing two to three feet high on roads.

Angry over lack of relief,hundreds of flood victims of Bela panchayat protested and blocked roads in East Champaran on Sunday; similar protests were also reported from other places.

Unexpected surplus rainfall in the state has also created problems for farmers as their paddy seedlings were fully damaged at many places because of waterlogging in the field. It was reported that standing summer maize crops were also damaged due to heavy rainfall since the last one month.

According to the WRD's website, Bihar is the most flood-affected state, accounting for close to 17.2% of the total flood-prone area in the country. Out of 94.16 lakh hectares, 68.80 lakh ha (76% of North Bihar and 73% of South Bihar) is flood-prone. At present, 28 out of 38 districts in the state are flood-prone.

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