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Nepal help to dodge deluge

Patna, Aug. 5: The responsible neighbour’s role of Nepal, coinciding with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the Himalayan state, helped Bihar avert a replay of the 2008 Kosi flood fury.

Unlike 2008, the authorities in Nepal acted cautiously. They drilled holes in debris to ease water pressure of the artificial lake formed on Sunkosi, a tributary of Kosi, because of damming of water following a landslide triggered by torrential rain. The flash flood fear in the state diminished today after the Nepal authorities ruled out blasts to drain out the excessive water.

As the deluge scare receded, the evacuation mission in Bihar was suspended today. The decision was taken in the wake of withdrawal of red alert from Saharsa, Supaul and Madhepura along the Kosi embankment, the credit of which goes to the matured measures of Nepal during and after Modi’s visit to the Himalayan nation.

The state government had sounded flood alert in nine districts. The red alert was withdrawn in six districts — Khagaria, Araria, Madhubani, Bhagalpur, Purnea and Darbhanga — yesterday.

During the Kushaha breach of 2008, there were complaints about Nepal’s Maoists fuelling labour trouble and making it difficult for the Indian engineers to work there. “The indifferent attitude of the Nepali government complicated the issue,” said a senior engineer.

In sharp contrast, the Nepali authorities did not take any rash step this time. They did not go for blasting the blockade of the Kosi flow caused by the landslide at Sindhupalchok district in the Himalayan state, around 260km from the India-Nepal border.

The blasts could have triggered havoc in the nine where the red alert was sounded. The artificial lake had a large volume of water. It possibly could not have been regulated at the Birpur barrage on Kosi.

Some flood experts attributed the gentle gesture of Nepal in releasing the excess water of Sunkosi to Modi’s two-day visit to the Himalayan nation and the warmth with which he embraced the politicians and the people of the neighbouring country.

Modi’s speech in Nepali Constituent Assembly on Sunday afternoon created a goodwill among the government, politicians and the people of the country, where anti-India sentiments had peaked. Even the Nepal Prime Minister, Sushil Koirala, said in the context of the Kosi flood fear that he understands the pain of the people of Bihar.

Besides Modi’s diplomacy, the nature was also kind towards Bihar. The rainfall in the upstream of Kosi receded, minimising the possibility of flash flood in the state.

As the situation improved, the exercise of evacuating around 1.14 lakh people from the nine districts in north Bihar was suspended today temporarily. The water resources department closed some of the 56 sluice gates of Birpur barrage.

The discharge at the barrage at 5pm today was 1.72lakh cusec. Its designed discharge capacity is 9.5 lakh cusec.

The government machinery would continue to watch the water level of Kosi closely but the people in the relief camps were asked today to go back to their homes with their cattle.

Disaster management principal secretary Vyasji told reporters in Patna that the decision to suspend the evacuation exercise was taken after the Nepal government confirmed this morning that they would not trigger any fresh blast at the landslide site in the upstream of Kosi in Nepal.