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Bihar stops evacuation in 3 districts after easing of flood threat

Tuesday, 5 August 2014 - 5:40pm IST | Agency: PTI

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In view of easing of flood threat, following assurance from Nepal that accumulated water in Bhote Kosi will be released in a regulated manner, Bihar decided on Tuesday to halt evacuation process in Supaul, Madhepura and Saharsa but the alert remained in force.

The state government also asked 1.14 lakh people who have been evacuated and put in 93 relief camps in these districts to return to their villages as threat of flash flood has receded after assurance from Nepal, Principal Secretary, Disaster Management Department (DMD) Vyasji told reporters.

The Bihar government after receiving relevant inputs from the Union government yesterday had decided to lift alert from six districts in Kosi belt but persist with evacuation in three districts of Supual, Saharsa and Madhepura, first point of contact in India on Indo-Nepal border.

"We reviewed the situation today. The Nepal government has said the trapped water in Bhote Kosi will be released in a regulated manner by widening three existing holes in the landslide debris" and there will not be any blasting exercise, Vyasji said after talks with the Union government about latest situation in the Himalayan country.

"We have decided to withdraw the alert following recession of chance of flash flood in Kosi river. The evacuation process has been stopped in Supaul, Madhepura and Saharsa districts and people living in the relief camps have been asked to return in view of this," added Vyasji. But the state will still keep a tab on the situation to meet any eventuality, the DMD Principal Secretary said.

People in the danger zone, that is, the area between the Kosi River and its embankments have been told to remain prepared to be evacuated at short notice if it is needed, he said.

"The five columns of Army, 15 teams of National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) and four teams of State Disaster Response Force (SDRF) will remain in he event of any eventuality and to instill confidence among people," Vyasji added. 

The Bhote Kosi was blocked in Nepal around 120 km north of Kathmandu and 260 km from Birpur in Indo-Nepal border on Indian side on Friday after a massive landslide cut loose huge portions of mountains, which fell on the main course of the river and blocked its flow.

Around 28 to 32 lakh cusecs of water got accumulated creating an artificial lake at Jure in Sindhupalchok district and the Nepal government has been trying to free it since then to safeguard its population.

The Bihar government had issued a high alert on Saturday and ordered evacuation of the low-lying areas close to Kosi saying a 10-metre high wall of water was expected to sweep down the river after the dammed Bhote Kosi water in Nepal was freed.

Vyasji said the 1.15 lakh cusec water flow is happening at the landslide site and no big change is expected in the next 24 hours. The DMD secretary also said that the Central Water Commission (CWC) has managed to estimate the volume of water present in the lake that has been created as a result of the landslide debris damming the river.

"The CWC Chairman has informed us that the depth of the lake is not more than 40 metres and it is holding around 10 million cubic metres of water," he said.

The state government has been extra cautious this time to prevent recurrence of Kosi disaster of 2008 that had killed hundreds of people. 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.

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