Flood fear, after 38 years

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  • Published 29.08.13

The swelling Ganga on Wednesday crossed the danger-level at Gandhi and Digha ghats, triggering maiden flood scare in the city after 1975.

People residing to the north of the 24-km-long flood protection wall might be evacuated forcibly if the river soars further. The district administration has asked the people staying beyond the wall to be vigilant. It has also banned the operation of boats in the Ganga at night because of high current.

Intermittent rainfall in the city on Wednesday added to the worry of those keeping a close watch on the flood threat in the city. “We are just hoping that it would not rain heavily and the water-level of the Ganga would recede in the next few days,” a source in the district administration said.

Several blocks, including Danapur, Bakhtiyarpur, Maner, Fatuha, Patna Sadar, Barh, Athmalgola and Mokama, along the banks of the Ganga in Patna district are already under water.

Patna district magistrate N. Saravana Kumar said on Wednesday: “The water-level of the Ganga along the city is expected to recede in the next few days, but people residing in houses beyond the flood protection wall could be forcibly removed if the river swells further. We would be providing alternative accommodation to the affected people under such circumstances.”

Occupants of some houses between the wall and the Ganga claimed that the river water had entered their houses. “The Ganga has flooded almost all the houses beyond the flood protection wall in the Digha area, triggering hardships for us,” said Ganesh Prasad, a resident of Digha.

Submerged kiosks at Gandhi Ghat
A crematorium at Gulbi Ghat on Wednesday.
Youths try to cross the river using a rope at Digha Ghat . Pictures by Nagendra Kumar Singh

“We are continuously monitoring the rise in the water-level of the Ganga here. In Allahabad, the water has been receding for the past three days. Like the trend in the upstream, we expect the Ganga water to decline in Patna in the next few days,” said Saravana.

Taking into count the rise in Ganga water, Patna Municipal Corporation (PMC) has closed the gates of all the big drains having outlets in the Ganga to avoid inflow of floodwater to the town. “Water from the drainage network of the city is being pumped into the Ganga through four big and 15 small sump houses. Water from all internal drains in the city is being discharged in them. The big drains directly discharging waste water in the Ganga have been sealed to avoid inflow of floodwater in the city,” said a senior official of PMC. The district administration has blocked all the small drains constructed by the residents and draining water in the Ganga.

The city has a network of 535 drains, including nine major (big), 14 medium and 514 minor (small) drains.

Experts claimed that the prevailing water-level of the Ganga was worse than the flood in the city in 1975. “The city was flooded in 1975 because the army had opened an anti-flood sluice gate at Danapur cantonment. The river water gushed into the city through it. This time, the gate has not been opened. The river is flowing above the danger mark from the upstream only, posing a serious threat of flood in the city,” said Ashram Rai, a retired chief engineer of the water resources department. The flood-like situation in the city without much rain came as a surprise to several residents. Experts said the river has swollen because of heavy rainfall near its origin in the Himalayas.

“The rainwater from Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, Haryana and Delhi near the origin of Ganga is flowing down to the city. These places have received very heavy rainfall in the past few weeks, prompting rise in water-level of the river in the places downstream like Patna. Moreover, almost all dams in the upstream areas are supersaturated and their flood gates have been opened,” said Ashok Ghosh, professor-in-charge, department of environment and water management, AN College.

Officials in the water resources department claimed on Wednesday that a declining trend in the river water had been observed in Uttar Pradesh. But the scenario was just the opposite in Bihar.

“The water level in Ganga declined in Allahabad and Varanasi on Wednesday. But a rising trend was observed at Buxar,” said Jawahar Lal, the superintending engineer of Patna’s flood control planning and monitoring circle (water resources department).