Patna: Barely three days after the monsoon entered Bihar, there is a flood like situation in West Champaran district bordering Nepal as the water level rising in river Gandak and its tributaries forced authorities to release record water from the barrage into the river on Tuesday night and Wednesday. With heavy rains continuing for the last 48 hours across the state and water level rising in several rivers, the fear of floods is back .
Thousands of people in hundreds of villages located in low lying areas along the river in the district have been living under fear since water started entering and communications were cut off. In several places, river water spread and submerged new areas. Water also entered several parts of Bagaha town in the district and is flowing two to three feet high on roads
As per the local weather office, West Champaran has recorded 195 mm rain on Tuesday, a record in early June in the last one decade. The IMD has forecast increased amount of rain in the next 24 hours in Champaran and the rest of the state. It has also sounded a blue alert.
After reports of heavy rains continuing in the catchment area of Gandak river in Bihar and neighbouring Nepal, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Tuesday held a high level review meeting through video conferencing and asked the district magistrates of West Champaran, East Champaran and Gopalganj to remain on high alert and monitor rising water level in the river.
In view of unprecedented heavy rainfall, the West Champaran district magistrate Kundan Kumar has alerted the administration and ordered evacuation of people living in villages near the river embankment and in low-lying areas to safer places. “All officials including engineers engaged in flood fighting were directed to speed up rescue operations and NDRF teams have been put on alert,” he said.
According to reports, hundreds of people of marooned villages were fleeing their homes in West Champaran as the NDRF and SDRF had not yet rescued them.
According to the state Water Resources Department (WRD)officials, Gandak has been flowing above the danger mark since Tuesday and threatening hundreds of villages in half a dozen districts.
The pressure on the river embankments increased after discharge of record barrage water into the river. “The water levels of the river have been rising to danger and extreme danger levels at several places, putting pressure on the embankments,” one official told Newsclick.
The WRD officials have opened all 36 sluice gates of Gandak barrage after the water level rose to an alarming level on Tuesday.They said that the barrage discharged over 3 lakh cusecs of water into the river on Tuesday night.
On the other hand, the state disaster management department officials said rescue and relief operations have begun in the area. But they admitted that the threat of flood looms large over other villages, creating panic among thousands of residents.
Authorities in the flood prone districts have asked people living in vulnerable and low-lying areas to shift to safer places following the rising water level of the rivers .The state government has asked engineers and district officials to keep round the clock vigil.
Last year, Bihar received surplus rain due to more than normal monsoon that entered the state at the right time. According to IMD’s annual rainfall reports, Bihar receives 1,027.6 mm rainfall in a normal monsoon year; the average annual rainfall through the year in all seasons is 1,205.6 mm.
According to 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 hectare area, 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.
The flood management works that can be carried out include the construction and maintenance of embankments, revetment in selected portions of river banks, land spurs and other necessary flood-protection work. A large part of river catchment areas fall in the glacial regions of the Himalayas. Thus, remedial measures for flood protection in Bihar are critical.
As a long term measure, the construction of storage reservoirs and extensive watershed treatment in the upper catchments of rivers is considered essential. For the short-term, the construction of embankments along the rivers was done; by constructing about 3,745.96 km of embankment, around 36.46 lakh ha of area has been brought under a reasonable degree of protection.