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Hungry Kosi scares villages

Naugachia (Bhagalpur), June 20: The misery inflicted by river Kosi over the years has been compounded by the high rate of erosion.

The river has been infamously been called the sorrow of Bihar but geologists have attributed the floods to the changing course of the river. Politicians consider it the best way of politics, while flood victims term it struggle for survival.

After the devastating floods of 2008, the meandering behaviour of the river has left the residents of dozens of sleepy hamlets on the river’s bank under Naugachia sub-division puzzled.

The onset of monsoon and subsequently, the swollen Kosi has forced residents of hamlets to evacuate and flee to safe places with bullock carts and tractors full with household items.

After Nepali Maoists forcibly stopped flood prevention measures initiated by the state water resources department near Kosi barrage in Saptari district of Nepal and release of water from Kosi barrage has spread fresh panic among villagers. On the night of June 18, the release of 81,000 cusecs of water from Kosi barrage inundated dozens of villages falling under Saraighar-Bhaptihai blocks of Supaul district. The spurt in the river water level in Naugachia sub-division is clearly visible too.

Dodhia, Maricha, Ratanpura, along with dozens of hamlets on the river bank under Kharik block of the sub-division are on the verge of getting completely washed away. Other hamlets like Madrauni under the flood-prone Rangra block are sandwiched between the rivers Ganga and Kosi and have to face the fury of recurring floods with loss of vast tracts of land every year. Bivash Chandra Singh, the former mukhiya of Madrauni, said the village with a population of more than 7,000 has to witness massive land erosion since 1987. He accounted that the villagers lost over more than 4000 acres of fertile land to the river along with more than 600 pucca houses so far. The 10,000-plus residents of Sohora, a hamlet gobbled up by the river in 2006-07, now have taken shelter at Madrauni.

Hundreds of villages stand on the Kosi that passes through the 100-km-plus stretch in Bhagalpur district from Bhawanpura in the west before it merges with river Ganga at Kursela bridge in the east, are on the verge of getting eaten up. “The rapid shift in the course has compounded the misery of the people. The river is notorious for its meandering behaviour on its east to west course,” said Ramnarayan Yadav, an executive engineer of the water resources department.

“The river has shifted from its original course towards Kharik. Earlier the erosion was somehow prevented by boulder pitching at Chorhar. But the new river course has started posing potent threat to other parts,” said Yadav.

Hamlets after hamlet like Srikund, Punama, Nabtoliya and even the Katihar-Barauni section of the railway tracks under the Northeast Frontier Railway along with Naugachiya township, have no flood-control measures and face the Kosi’s potent erosion threats by Kosi. The entire region has a bleak picture of broken houses, flattened fields and ravaged lives, signs of all the havoc the previous floods and land erosion wreaked here earlier.

Ranjan Kumar Choudhary, a former research scholar in the postgraduate department of geography in Tilka Manjhi Bhagalpur University, said: “In the past 250 years, the Kosi has shifted westwards by more than 100km.”

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