Bihar reels under unprecedented floods: People in shock, government asleep at the wheel

West Champaran: Charon aur Nadi, Third beech Marjadi [rivers on four sides and middle Marjadi] is a local saying described as the village of Marjadi. Located in the Gaunaha block in the Champaran district of the west in the north of Bihar, the village Harhoura the river to the east and west of the Ganguli River; Kathaha goes through it.

However, the ferocity of floods that nearly drowned the town on the night of 12-13 August this year left Marjadi, even prone to disaster, stunned. Around 6 pm on August 12, it began to rain a lot. The rain continued until the next morning.

“At 11 o’clock at night, there was water at the level of the chest that flowed in the village,” said Narendra Ram, a resident of Marjadi. “People panicked and ran to the rooftops of Pucca’s houses and spent the night there.” The water level in the village was more than six feet.

“All our grains stored, cattle, clothes, everything had been washed,” said Chanda Devi, who had to be rescued by his fellow villagers while the waters were out of his house. Devi was caught in flood with two small children. They were saved by the villagers as the water level passed by 6 feet.

“I was over 80 years old and I saw a lot of flooding, but the night of August 12 was just pralay.” If the Triveni downstream channel was not pierced, all our people were washed away, “said Ram Jagan, an ancient inhabitant. “Pran ke kuch nahi Ilawa Bacha Gaon contrary h [Only humans are left in the village].”

Last month, Bihar has faced huge floods because all the major rivers in northern Bihar including Gandak, Burhi Gandak, Bagmati and Kosi-rosa were flooded in the Terai region. Flooding affected 17.1 million people in 19 districts in northern Bihar, killing 514 people.

More than 73% of Bihar’s 94,163 square kilometers are prone to flooding. The problem is particularly acute in northern Bihar, where nearly 76 percent of the population, or about 50 million people, lives under the constant threat of flooding. Among them, those living along the border between India and Nepal face an additional danger: sudden unpredictable floods of rivers flowing from the Himalayas across the border.

These flash floods that regularly affect the districts of Champaran West and East, Madhubani, Sitamarhi, Araria and Kishanganj are old affairs. However, local villagers and government officials say these floods are becoming more frequent due to climate change.

“Bihar faces the effects of climate change, precipitation patterns are disturbed here, rains are followed by long periods of drought, we are facing not only more floods, but also an increase in drought,” said Vyas Ji, vice president of the Bihar Disaster Management Authority (BSDMA).

Instantaneous flooding in Bihar is beyond national attention because flood control and management is concentrated only in large rivers such as Kosi, Gandak, Bagmati, etc. But they need immediate attention because those affected by these flash floods are among the poorest in India.

The per capita income (2011-2012) in the six districts affected by the floods in northern Bihar is less than 10,000 rupees, according to the Bihar Government’s 2015-16 economic study. On the other hand, the per capita income of Patna district is 63 063 rupees.

The infant mortality rate (deaths of children under 1 year per 1,000 live births) in these six districts ranges from 48 to 60 years, according to the 2012-2013 Annual Health Survey; Technical information Bihar. Mortality of children under five (probability of children dying between birth and five years to 1,000 live births) in Sitamarhi is 97, followed by 84 in Kishanganj, Araia at 76 and 72 at Pashchim Champaran.

The average under-five mortality rate in India is 50 per 1,000 live births. These frequent disasters trap people in a seemingly endless cycle of floods, poverty, indebtedness, low living standards and other floods, according to surveys conducted by India.

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