Patna: Rising flood water has disrupted train services on the Samastipur - Darbhanga rail section and Jaynagar-Samastipur rail section in Bihar for three consecutive days on Thursday. This has affected thousands of people, mainly migrant workers, who have started to go back to their workplaces across the country following COVID-19 cases declining in recent weeks.
As the railway tracks got submerged and floodwater touched the girder of a rail bridge on Samastipur - Darbhanga rail section, railway authorities were forced to cancel seven trains and diverted routes of over a dozen trains. "It was decided to cancel train services on Samastipur - Darbhanga rail section till September 2 in view of the rise of water level of Bagmati river as it posed a danger to safety," a senior railway official, Saraswati Chandra, said.
Since Tuesday, Chandra said the floodwater has been disrupting train services after reaching bridge number 16 between Hayaghat and Thakwara stations in the Samastipur division.
According to Chief PRO of East-Central Railways, Rajesh Kumar, rising floodwater disrupted several train services. "Not only trains from Darbhanga and Samastipur were cancelled, two trains, including the intercity train between Saharsa and Patna and the Janki express, also remain cancelled on Thursday.
The flood situation remained grim at some places across more than a dozen districts in the state on Thursday, with some of the major rivers flowing above the danger mark in few places while others were showing signs of decline, which is a sign of relief. Still, large tracts of land continue to remain submerged due to floodwater. There seems to be little chance of the water receding in the coming days, with the India Meteorological Department (IMD) forecasting more rain.
As per the Disaster Management Department's daily flood report on September 1, 29.37 lakh people in more than 2,000 villages across 16 districts had been affected by the floods. After weeks, this is the first time the number of flood-affected people has fallen below the 30-lakh mark.
To date, 44 people have officially died due to the floods in Bihar.
The Department's latest update said that so far, 2,15,355 people have been evacuated from flood-affected areas in the state.
Since late June, thousands of poor people have been forced to live in flooded areas in north Bihar districts bordering Nepal as water is yet to recede. It resulted in displacing thousands of people who have taken shelter on high-rise embankments, roads and other places. They are struggling for survival due to the failure of the government to provide them with food grains and other essential items in relief efforts.
In the last two and a half months, subsequent floods have destroyed numerous thatched and mud houses, heavily damaged standing crops and roads as hundreds of villages remain marooned and large tracts of areas still submerged under floodwater.
Flooding is not new to Bihar. Major rivers like Ganga, Koshi, Bagmati, Gandak, Burhi Gandak, Kamla Balan and Lakhandei, their tributaries, which are mainly monsoon-driven, also flood large areas inundating village after village and displacing thousands in the process.
Floodwater has entered hundreds of villages for the third or fourth time so far since June.
Bihar witnessed heavy rainfall with the onset of the monsoon this year. Heavy rainfall in the state is normal during July and August, but the eastern state received surplus rainfall in June, just as the monsoon arrived. This resulted in floods in the low-lying areas.
In June 2021, Bihar received 354.3 millimetres (mm) of rainfall — a whopping 111% more than the normal for the month. This excess rainfall drove the total precipitation till July 31 to 613.1 mm for the two months — about 19% higher than the average rainfall for the period.
Weather officials in Patna said the state received 942.3 millimetres of rainfall from June 1 to August 31 (normal is 801.19 millimetres), nearly 18 % above the normal rainfall generally received.
According to a preliminary assessment of crop damage by the state agriculture department, more than five lakh hectares of crops, including paddy, maize, sugarcane and vegetables, were destroyed by the floods this year in the state. The swollen rivers had inundated and destroyed thousands of acres of crops in 2020 as well.
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% of north Bihar and 73% of south Bihar) is flood-prone. At present, 28 out of 38 districts in the state are flood-prone.