With the danger of flood looming large in the Kosi belt along Bihar-Nepal border, the state government has put its personnel on alert, ordered evacuation of people inhabiting the embankment area and also sought help from the Army.
Bihar Disaster Management Department (DMD) principal secretary Vyasji said the state government has put its personnel on alert and instructed the affected districts to make arrangements to evacuate 1.5 lakh people in eight districts along the Kosi as 10-metre high wave of water is expected to sweep down the Kosi River through Nepal.
He said the state government has also sought the help of the army. The Central government, Vyasji said, has dispatched seven additional companies of National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) from Kolkata to help its eight companies deployed in Supaul, Madhepura and Saharsa districts.
"We have sent our own team of engineers and officials to the site where Bhote Kosi, a major tributary of Kosi River has been blocked due to an enormous landslide last night, damming the river and resulting in a massive accumulation of water. The team will immediately inform us when the Nepal Army blasts the debris to free the river," said Vyasji.
The landslide and ensuing damming of Bhote Kosi has occurred at a place called Jure in Sindhupalchok district in Nepal. It is located north of Kathmandu and around 260 km from the Bihar-Nepal border. "The Central Water Commission (CWC) estimates tell that 14 lakh cusec water has accumulated at the landslide site, while the Indian Embassy in Nepal has informed our National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) about the accumulation of 25 lakh cusec water there. In both cases it is a huge amount of water," said Vyasji.
"We are requesting the Nepal government to drill holes instead of blasting the debris. It will ease the flow instead of creating a flash flood like condition," added Vyasji. The DMD Principal secretary said experts estimate that 40 per cent of the water that will gush down the Kosi and will reach Bihar. He also said that the calculation says that the water will take around 14 hours to hit the state. We have ordered that the gates of Birpur barrage to be kept open to deal with the sudden rise in water level of Kosi. The capacity of this barrage is 8 lakh cusec," he added.
Around 400 NDRF personnel have already reached Kosi area and fanned into three districts, Vyasji said. Evacuation of around 1.5 lakh people living between the Kosi River and its embankment is going on in Supaul, Saharsa, Madhepura, Khagaria, Bhagalpur, Araria, Purnia, Madhubani districts, he said. The District Magistrates of these eight districts are overseeing the evacuation process.
Experts have identified four places where the gushing water might hit the Kosi embankment in Bihar. Several teams of engineers have been flown to these places to strengthen them, he said. The state government has opened 21 relief camps in Supaul, 28 in Saharsa, 22 in Khagaria, and two each in Madhepura, Madhubani and Bhagalpur districts so far. The DMD principal secretary said three NDRF companies have been deployed in Supaul and Madhepura districts each, while two have been deployed in Saharsa. Seven companies of State Disaster Response Force (SDRF) are being deployed in other districts than these.
Supaul has been made the headquarters to oversee the rescue and relief operations that might be needed in the eight districts. "Our personnel are ready to provide relief and rehabilitate to people living in embankment areas to save them from the danger of floods," NDRF Commandant Vijay Sinha, headquartered at Bihta told PTI. Sinha said he was on his way to Supaul from where he will marshal his NDRF personnel for further operations and more NDRF personnel will be joining him there.
The state government is keeping its fingers crossed and hopes that a repeat of the Kosi disaster of 2008 does not happen, he said. A breach in Kosi embankment at Kushaha in Nepal on August 18, 2008 had brought one of the most disastrous floods in Bihar. The river changed its course, killing hundreds of people and displacing around 30 lakh people. The incident also brought wide scale destruction of agriculture over 8 lakh acres of land.