The Telegraph
Saturday , August 2 , 2014
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Bihar orders 4 districts evacuated as blocked Kosi threatens mega flood

Patna, Aug 2 (Agencies): The Bihar government on Saturday ordered the immediate evacuation of four districts after the Kosi river threatened to change course again, following the blockage of its main channel in Nepal by landslides.

A massive landslide was reported on Friday night on the Bhote Kosi, one of the bigger tributaries of the Kosi in Nepal.

Bihar’s water resources minister Vijay Kumar Chaudhury said the landslide, in the upper reaches of the Bhote Kosi, around 100km beyond Nepal’s capital Kathmandu, had blocked the main course of the entire river.

“Water is fast accumulating there forming a massive water body. According to our information the Nepal Army is preparing to blast the blockage,” he said.

Chaudhary said a huge volume of water will be unleashed after the blast and an abrupt rise in the water level of Kosi is expected.

”We do not know the exact volume of water and are trying to estimate it. But a huge quantity of water is sure to be released after the blast. It may also spill beyond the Kosi and its embankments causing floods,” added the minister.

The state government is keeping its fingers crossed that a repeat of the Kosi disaster 2008 does not happen. The 2008 disaster happened because a dam was not maintained and silted up, causing the Kosi to breach the embankment.

The breach in the Kosi embankment at Kushaha in Nepal on August 18, 2008, had resulted in one of the most disastrous floods in Bihar, displacing three million people and killing hundreds.

The Kosi changed course, back into a dry channel it had used centuries ago.

The floods also destroyed crops over eight lakh acres, affecting an area the size of Belgium.

The Water Resources Department (WRD) called an emergency meeting on Saturday to discuss the situation that has built up due to the landslide over Bhote Kosi. It also discussed increasing water retaining capacity at Birpur barrage over Kosi on Indo-Nepal border through sluice gate operations.

All WRD officials have been called on duty. The department is also keeping a watch on the Varah Kshetra area of Nepal where Bhote Kosi joins the Kosi River. Normal water flow takes five to six hours to reach Birpur from there.

The Disaster Management Department (DMD) of the state government has ordered evacuation of people living in the area between the Kosi and its embankments in several north Bihar districts.

DMD Special Secretary Anirudh Kumar said “Lakhs of people live in villages situated within the embankments of Kosi in Supaul, Saharsa, Madhepura and Purnia districts. We have directed the district administration to get it evacuated so that the people do not get trapped when the river level registers a sharp increase.”

Five teams of National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) and three teams of State Disaster Response Force (SDRF) have also been dispatched to Supaul, Saharasa and Madhepura districts to tackle any emergency.

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