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Bihar: Flood-like Situation in Many Districts due to Heavy Rainfall

The heavy rainfall follows the trend of extreme weather events that the state has experienced throughout the summer, which started with extreme heatwaves a few months ago.
Bihar flood.

Patna: Till early this week, Bihar was facing a rainfall deficit of 29%, and the fear of a drought-like situation was haunting farmers. That changed after the state received heavy rainfall for the past three days, creating a flood-like situation in many districts. Thousands of people have been threatened as water from rising rivers entered low-lying villages and houses.

The heavy rainfall follows the trend of extreme weather events that the state has experienced throughout the summer, which started with extreme heatwaves a few months ago.

Farmers have expressed joy as the rainfall would be crucial for their paddy cultivation, which had been delayed due to poor monsoon in June.

At the same time, heavy rains have resulted in a sudden rise in water levels in many rivers and their tributaries, causing unexpected flood-like situations in flood-prone districts of the Seemanchal and Koshi regions. All the major rivers, including Ganga, Koshi, Bagmati, Gandak, Mahananda, Kamla Balan ,Bhuthi Balan,Bakra, Parmaan,Kankai and Lalbekiya are in spate. Authorities have sounded the alert and appealed to people living in low-lying areas near rivers to shift to elevated places.

According to officials of the Indian Meteorological Centre, Patna, heavy rainfall in 72 hours turned the state from a rainfall deficit of 29% to 6% surplus rainfall.

"As per official data, the state recorded 99.5 mm rainfall from June 1-27, which was 29% less than the normal. It was not a good indication. But things turned around following heavy rainfall during the last three days that fulfilled more than the normal quota of June."

IMD officials said due to heavy rainfall, Bihar recorded 172.3 mm of rainfall till June 30, against the normal rain of 163.3 mm, which is a 6% surplus.

In the last 13 years, monsoon rainfall has been above normal five times in June. In 2021, Bihar received 111% surplus rainfall, 82% in 2020, 37% in 2011, 5% in 2013 and 6% in 2022.

Heavy rainfall in the state is normal during July and August. But surplus rainfall in June resulted in floods in the low-lying areas.

According to local reports, flood water entered hundreds of villages under dozen of blocks in Araria, Saharsa, Purnea, Kishanganj, Katihar, Supaul, East Champaran, Madhubani, and Sitamarhi districts and is likely to spread to new areas in other districts of the state in the next 24 hours. In several places, flood water submerged vast low-lying areas and flowed three-to-four feet high on roads, including national highways.

Flooding is not new to Bihar. Not just major rivers, but their tributaries, mainly monsoon-driven, also flood large areas and inundate village after village, displacing thousands in the process.

Rising water levels in the Koshi, Bagmati, and Gandak have been putting extra pressure on its embankments at different places. A Water Resource Department official said, "The pressure on embankments has increased after the rise in water level of rivers in the past two days."

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

According to annual rainfall reports (Rainfall Statistics of India) of the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD), Bihar gets 1,027.6 mm of rainfall in a normal monsoon year, and its average annual rainfall, including pre-monsoon, monsoon, post-monsoon and winter, is 1,205.6 mm.

For the farmers, surplus rainfall in June is good news. IMD prediction of more heavy rainfall till July 3 is a positive sign for paddy cultivation during the ongoing Kharif season. Farmers in Bihar heavily depend on monsoon rains for Kharif crops, mainly paddy, which is a water-intensive crop. With sufficient rainfall this monsoon, the farmers are happy.

As per officials of the state agriculture department, this year's target is cultivating paddy on 35.14 lakh hectares. So far, paddy sowing has been completed in 11,000 hectares against the target of 35,000 hectares due to lack of water due to scanty rainfall.

Paddy plantation should be completed by July 15 to get a good output, according to scientists. Further delay will affect productivity as well as quality, they have said.

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