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Deluge evacuation starts

- Kosi flood scare persists, CM conducts aerial survey of catchment area

Patna, Aug. 3: Around two lakh people in nine north-Bihar districts continued to fret over the imminent Kosi flood within 72 hours though water did not gush into any residential area today.

Around 50,000 people out of 2.5lakh residing in danger zones were evacuated today. Chief minister Jitan Ram Manjhi and disaster management department’s principal secretary Vyasji made an aerial survey of the entire catchment area of Kosi covering Bhagalpur, Khagaria and Supaul districts. Manjhi held parleys with Union home minister Rajnath Singh and agriculture minister Radhamohan Singh. The chief minister said the Union ministers had assured him of all possible help.

“The areas in the danger zone between the embankments on the either side of Kosi river looked dry as on Sunday but most of these villages would be flooded once water is released from the site in Nepal, where the river has been blocked because of a landslide. Thus, flooding in the danger zone in nine districts is imminent but all possible steps are being taken to minimise the causality,” said Vyasji.

The state government has sounded red alert for imminent floods in nine districts, including Supaul, Madhepura, Saharsa, Araria, Purnea, Madhubani, Khagaria, Darbhanga and Bhagalpur, following the landslide in Nepal on Friday night. The avalanche in the Himalayan state’s Sindhupalchok district, about 100km north of Kathmandu and around 260km from the Bihar-Nepal border, created an artificial lake on Saturday on river Sunkosi — a tributary of the Kosi. This resulted in damming of the river.

Around 27 lakh cusec of water has accumulated there. Nepalese agencies claimed that the blocked water spread over an area of around 1km with a depth of 70m.

Once the authorities in Nepal blast the debris, the water is expected to come sweeping down to Bihar within 14 hours. According to estimates of Central Water Commission, around 40 per cent of the 28 lakh cusec water accumulated at the landslide site is expected to affect Bihar.

The state government officials today claimed that four small blasts were triggered in the debris in river Sunkosi at Jure village in Sindhupalchok district on Saturday for controlled discharge of floodwater. Water resources secretary Dipak Kumar Singh said the water level had started rising steadily in the Kosi in the Indian territory.

“The water was found to be static on Sunday evening. Following the blasts in the debris, around 9,000 cusec water was coming in the downstream of Kosi river in Bihar and the actual discharge at Birpur barrage in Supaul — the first to be hit — was 1,20,000 cusec at 7pm on Sunday against its designated discharge capacity of 9.5 lakh cusec,” said Dipak.

The state disaster management officials claimed that floodwater had not entered residential areas of any of the identified nine districts till Sunday evening. Supaul town has been made the headquarters of the department to tackle the imminent crisis.

Deliberating on the evacuation measures, the department’s principal secretary, Vyasji, said: “Out of 2,50,000 people residing in the danger zone, around 50,000 people were evacuated to safer places by 5pm on Sunday and the process was going on at war footing. We also got the support of Indian Army, Indian Air Force and National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) on Sunday.”

NDRF’s deputy inspector-general Surjeet Singh Guleria said 15 teams of NDRF — each comprising around 45 personnel — and four columns of Indian Army — each comprising 20 personnel — had reached Bihar on Sunday. The security forces were deployed in the affected areas as well. The state disaster management department officials said 13 teams of state disaster response force were also deployed at the affected areas.

Anirudh Kumar, the special secretary of the state disaster management department, said an order had been issued to the security agencies and the district administrations concerned to remove people from the danger zone forcibly if they did not leave willingly despite threat to their lives.

Vyasji said the state government had decided to take over all private boats in the nine identified districts to prevent any theft of belongings of the evacuated people. “The decision has been taken based on the experience of thefts during the 2008 Kosi deluge. Police would also be patrolling the evacuated villages,” said Vyasji.