The Telegraph
Monday , August 4 , 2014
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Panic in ground zero, chaos in relief camps

About 2,00,000 people in around 100 villages of Mahishi and Nauhatta blocks on the eastern embankment of Kosi are under maximum threat from the anticipated flood. Amit Anand of Mahishi, Saharsa, narrates the situation at “ground zero”

On Saturday afternoon, the Saharsa district administration started making public announcements for evacuation.

Villagers residing between eastern and western embankments of the river were ordered to vacate their homes and stay in relief camps or other safe places. The advisory, announced for villages adjacent to the eastern embankments like Mahishi, Mohanpur, Muradpur, Telhar villages, saying next 48 hours would be crucial.

Late on Saturday night, I visited some relief camps near the Koshi Mahasetu at Baluaha Ghat I saw people carrying kids on shoulders. Shockingly, most of them did not know exactly where to go because the district administration had just asked them to vacate the low-lying villages. A large number of people slept on the embankment and the bridge.

I also visited a few relief camps in Mahishi block. The schools and colleges have been turned into relief camps. All schools inside the embankment have been closed indefinitely. Though the relief camps looked fine but very few people had reached there by Saturday night. On enquiring about food, I was told by one of the families at a relief camp at Murli village that chura (beaten rice) and gud (jaggery) were served. I returned home around midnight.

I again left my home to visit the villages inside the embankment at 6.30 on Sunday. The number of people on the embankment and Kosi Mahasetu had increased significantly by that time. People from around 40 villages, including Ara, Murli, Jhara, Bhelahi and Darhar among others, were not ready to leave their houses. They asked who would look after their belongings in the village once they leave. They were demanding assurance from police about safety of their belongings after their evacuation.

Around 11am, two air force helicopters were seen flying at lower altitude over the embankment area. Panic once again broke around 2pm, when rain started in Mahishi. Many people started running out of the villages inside the embankment fearing immediate flooding. The rain, however, lasted for only around 15 minutes.

About deployment of security forces, I had seen a few teams of the NDRF and Bihar Military Police at some schools and colleges in Mahishi. One of the district administration officials told me that an army team would be deployed at Lahtan Choudhary Inter College at Mahishi by Sunday evening.

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