| Girls on way to school in an inundated village in Buxar and (right) children of flood-hit areas wait for food at Rabindra Bhavan in Tilka Manjhi Bhagalpur University on Monday. Pictures by Manish Kumar and Amit Kumar |
Rivers in Bihar are flowing above the danger mark, posing a threat to the livelihood of thousands residing in at least 20 districts.
Principal secretary, disaster management department, Vyasji, told The Telegraph: “Around 132 people have lost their lives out of which 18 people have died after their boats capsized. Except the Ganga flowing near Patna, all major rivers such as Sone, Ghaggar, Budhi Gandak, Bagmati and Gandak are flowing above the danger level.”
Officers with the central water commission said there was no receding trend till Monday. “We were expecting a receding trend in the coming days but till Monday there was no such sign. The water level of Sone at 8am in Maner was 75cm above the danger mark. Similarly, the water level of Ghaggar at 4pm in Gangpur Siswan was 57.4m, which was 54cm above the danger mark,” said the officer. He added that in Khagaria, the water level of Budhi Gandak at 4pm was 36.58m, which was 2.09m above the danger mark.
Chief minister Nitish Kumar said the flood situation in the state was grim but the government was doing its best to control the situation. “No doubt many districts are affected by flood but the situation is under control. However, I cannot say what will happen in the coming days,” Nitish said.
The Ganga has, however, clocked a flood record which Bhagalpur and Munger have not seen in the past 10 years.
The holy river is flowing 73-75cm above the danger levels in the two districts.
The water resources department and the central water commission have set the alarm bells ringing after the river crossed the 34.43-meter mark in Bhagalpur on Monday afternoon. The water level is considered dangerous.
Kailu Sardar, the chief engineer of the Bhagalpur division of the water resources department, said water from different rivers was released into the Ganga, which led to the abnormal rise in the danger level.
According to him, 2.75 lakh cusec water has been released to Ganga from Ghaggar river, while 1.36 lakh cusec water has been released from the Gandak. “In addition to this, water has been released from Sone as well,” Sardar said.
Jayprakash Singh, a senior work assistant of the central water commission, said because of the release of excess water to the river, the flood situation is deteriorating in areas between Hatidah and Sahebganj in Jharkhand via Munger-Bhagalpur.
“The river is likely to rise by 5-8cm in the next 24 hours. The flood situation is very serious between the Sultanganj-Pirpainty stretch,” said the divisional commissioner of Bhagalpur, Minhaj Alam.
He added that because of heavy erosion, parts of Srirampur embankment at Akbarnagar in Bhagalpur have been washed away around 11pm on Sunday, resulting in large-scale damage to public property.
The damaged embankment has brought heavy vehicles to a still on national highway-80 from Akbarnagar to its west. Alam said riverine localities like Laldarwaza, Lalupokhar, Chuhabag, Chandisthan and most of Munger township is under water.
Floods victims, on the other hand, alleged large-scale irregularities in distribution of relief items. “Instead of 50kg wheat and 50kg rice we received 38kg wheat and 32kg rice bags. We are not able to manage with the food the government is providing because of long gaps between relief packages arriving in the flood-hit areas,” said Anadi Mandal, a flood victim who is based in Sabour High School at present.
On the other hand, all 220 villages of 66 panchayats in Bhojpur district are inundated as the Ganga refuses to subside. The release of about 1 lakh cusec water into Sone from the Indrapuri barrage on Friday worsened the situation. Sudhir Kumar Sharma, assistant engineer, flood control, said: “Many villages are facing erosion threat. Thousands of people and cattle are migrating to safer areas.”
Bhojpur disaster management officer-in-charge Pradeep Kumar Gupta said: “The Ganga has created havoc in all six blocks (Badahara, Shahpur, Bihiya, Ara and Koelwar).