When tsunami hit eastern and southern coast of India at the dawn of year 2004, it was seen as a massive natural calamity in many-many years and rightly so. For impact of the natural fury was so much that lacs got affected. Whole nation stood up and extended helping hands towards affected states. Every year, there happens situation similar to Tsunami in Bihar, but has anyone bothered to take that seriously ever? It is a question every Bihari has in their mind.
It happens year after year without failing. This year, on 18th August, 2008, catastrophe hit the state and many lives were literally marooned and doomed to strive for survival. Entire north Bihar region got badly affected by the worst floods in the history of Bihar caused by several kilometers long breaches in the embankments of Kosi river near Indo-Nepal border. Fifteen districts of Bihar have been hit by the impact of one of the worst floods in recent memory with the worst hit being Araria, Supaul, Madhepura and Saharsa.
And while relief measures and funds have been going on but the quantum of the severity of this flood of furry is yet to completely seep in, even though the overflowing Kosi—the sorrow of Bihar—has been sinking most of the human habitat that has come on the way of its new, changed course has been victimized.
A close look at the history of this North Bihar river, and one realizes that the worst is yet not over.
Like many other rivers of North Bihar, Kosi gathers water from Himalayas in Nepal. However, it is a trans-boundary river and flows between Nepal and India.
Kosi is also one of the largest tributaries of Ganga and after flowing through nearly 70,000 sq kilometers confluences into Ganga near Kursaila in Katihar district of Bihar.
In Nepal, this river lies to the west of Himalayan peak, the Kanchanjangha and has seven major tributaries namely Sun Kosi, Tama Kosi, Dhudh Kosi, Indravati, Likhu, Arun and Tamar. That is why it is known as ‘Sapta Kosi’ in Nepal.
This river has earned notoriety since time immemorial due to its unruly, turbulent and unpredictable behavior.
On an average, it carries 70-80 million tons of silt every year and it is perhaps due to this feature, it tends to change its course after a definite period of time. This is also one of the most important differences between Himalayan rivers and rivers of Europe or America.
The speed and velocity of the river’s flow is also very high, causing devastation that is most often unthinkable. As the river is relatively new, experts suggest that it has not matured enough to settle a definite course.
The impact of this catastrophe is also manifold—the pace of development of Bihar is certainly going to come to a grinding halt, or may even get reversed.
Many would agree that history is going to repeat itself. The irony is that the international community is sitting quite and except for few announcements there has been no initiative as such to help the nation and the state tide over the disaster that is fast turning severe than the recent Tsunami.
The magnitude of devastation and destruction is such that no government will be able to tackle it single handedly. The job is enormous and response so far has been cold.
This is the time to fight back; Bihar is looking for help from all corners, all agencies and many nations. And while Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and the entire state machinery are struggling hard, so are the denizens of entire North Bihar.
Let helping hands come out and take Bihar out of this ‘national calamity’.
When tsunami hit southern coast of India on BIHAR is devastated either by water or the lack of it. Presently the entire State has been flooded and according to official reports, over 600 people have perished in the current floods, with more and more casualties being reported. Nearly 20.5 million people continue to reel under the impact of the floods in 20 districts of the State.
Approximately six lakh people have been evacuated but still 25 lakh people remain to be trapped. Running water is the only breather that people have from this flood, because it keeps epidemic diseases off the bank. But, once water starts receding, an epidemic is only inevitable. Administration had better start thinking about this aspect of Bihar flood as well.
Note: The article was originally posted in a different WordPress Blog of mine in 2008. I have moved this article here as I am going to delete that Blog.
Saurabh Verma, Manul & Sumi