| Relief for now |
Patna, Aug. 23: Most big rivers showed a declining or stable water level trend on Saturday, for the first time in the past eight days.
Rivers that showed a declining water level trend over the past 24 hours included the Ganga, Sone, Punpun, Ghaghra, Gandak, Bagmati, Kamlabalan and Kosi rivers.
Though the swollen rivers showed a receding trend, the state disaster management department on Saturday increased the number of flood-affected districts in the state from 14 to 16. Bhagalpur and Madhepura districts were the new entrants to the flood list. The state disaster management department has already declared Nalanda, Saharsa, Supaul, Madhubani, Darbhanga, Muzaffarpur, Sitamarhi, Patna, Sheohar, Araria, Sheikhpura, Khagaria and Gopalganj as flood-affected.
Four more deaths were reported from flood-affected districts on Saturday, after zero additions on Friday. The area affected by floods also increased by three lakh hectares on Friday to four lakh hectares on Saturday.
Also, a small old bridge on the Ganga’s bank at Bhagalpur district got damaged today. Sources claimed repair work has begun.
Flooding on most rivers in the state followed heavy, torrential rains between August 14 and 18 because of a monsoon trough line passing through central Bihar.
Though the water level in most rivers witnessed a declining trend on Saturday, they were still flowing above danger level at various places.
For instance, the Ganga was flowing higher than the danger mark by 24cm at Kahalgaon and 72cm at Sahebganj at 9am on Saturday. However, it was flowing below danger level at places like Buxar, Patna and Munger.
Senior officials in the water resources department heaved a sigh of relief following the receding water level but claimed the Ganga would continue to flow at high levels.
“The water level in rivers like Kosi, Ganga, Gandak and Bagmati showed a declining trend on Saturday. However, we believe the declining trend on the Ganga is only temporary because of very high discharge of water into its tributary Ghaghra,” water resource department secretary Dipak Kumar Singh said.
Dipak said the breach on the embankment of the Bagmati River in Sitamarhi has been repaired. A 50m breach had appeared on its left embankment at Shruti block on Friday and 200 cusec of water started flowing from it every hour.
This was the fourth case of breach after similar ones at Ghanshyampur block in Darbhanga district, Bagha block in West Champaran and Hasanpur Dumaria embankment in Gopalganj.
Incidentally, Kosi, referred to as Bihar’s “river of sorrow”, has been comparatively calm while Gandak has been more aggressive. “It is due to higher rains in the Gandak’s catchment areas that two breaches on its embankment took place in West Champaran and Gopalganj districts respectively. Kosi, on the other hand, has received comparatively less rainfall this time,” Dipak said.
Nalanda district has been worst hit. Even residents of neighbouring areas are facing tough times. “Flood water entered this village and six neighbouring panchayats on August 15 and it has remained inundated since. Road connectivity is completely lost and the state government is not even running boats here,” said Umakant Singh, a Congress party leader and resident of Bhawanchak village in Belchi block of Patna district.
Twelve units of National Disaster Response Force and several other units of State Disaster Response Force have already been pressed into service in the flood-affected districts. Around 500 healthcare centres were also operational in the flood-affected districts.