Patna, Aug. 4: Rescuers today evacuated nearly 20,000 more people trapped in the “danger zone” of the river Kosi even as the flood threat eased with a controlled discharge of water from Nepal and the absence of rainfall over the river’s upstream.
The total number of evacuees has touched nearly 70,000. Around 2.5 lakh people are still suspected to be living in the areas that have been demarcated as a threat zone.
A massive landslide triggered by torrential rain in Nepal’s Sindhupalchok district — 260km from the India-Nepal border — early on Saturday led to an excessive accumulation of water from the Sunkosi (a tributary of the Kosi). This triggered the scare of a wall of water sweeping down Bihar’s districts lying along the Kosi.
“The high alert will now be confined only to three districts — Saharsa, Supaul and Madhepura. The rest of the districts — Khagaria, Araria, Madhubani, Bhagalpur, Purnea and Darbhanga — are no longer under the spell of alert,” principal secretary (disaster management) Vyasji said.
The officer, clarified that rescuers were leaving nothing to chance. “The situation is still unpredictable. What is of solace is Nepal has been discharging water in a regulated manner. The authorities have not carried out any blast other than the four set off on Sunday to remove the debris at the site of the landslide,” he said.
Vyasji said there was a discharge of 1.5 lakh cusec of water today at the Birpur barrage against its capacity of over nine lakh cusec. “There are reports of the water level in the Sunkosi going down at an average of three inches per hour,” he said.
Officials, however, said that with monsoon in progress, the possibility of heavy rain in the river’s upstream could not be ruled out still. Vyasji said 19 teams of the National Disaster Response Force and State Disaster Response Force have been deployed in the affected districts.
As many as five army columns have also been posted in Supaul, Saharsa and Madhepura, the three districts likely to face the first surge of the water in case of excessive discharge that could damage the embankments on the Kosi.
Four Indian Air Force aircraft and two helicopters have been kept as standby at Purnea airbase and Bihta for being pressed into service in case of an emergency.
Flood control officials said the eastern and western embankments along the Kosi have four vulnerable points, which were being patrolled by experts, engineers and workers.
Chief minister Jitan Ram Manjhi attended a meeting of what has been christened the “crisis management group” to take stock of the situation.