|Rediff India Abroad Home | All the sections|
Discuss | Email | Print | Get latest news on your desktop
'Tsunami of Bihar' could have been avoided
Sheela Bhatt | August 29, 2008 20:53 IST
Last Updated: August 30, 2008 14:43 IST
"These are not floods. This is worse than Tsunami [Images]," says Janta Dal-United President Sharad Yadav while talking to media persons about the devastation caused by the Kosi river, which flows from Nepal into India.
He has just returned to New Delhi [Images] from a tour of the flood-affected areas like Madhepura, the constituency he once represented, and Supaul.
Floods have come in one part of the area traditionally called 'mithilanchal' where most people speak only 'Maithili', one of the highly refined languages of India.
Yadav says, "People are still not ready to vacate the houses because they don't want to leave their belongings behind. They have gone on higher floors or terraces."
These people don't have enough food to eat nor do they have potable water.
Preventive measures not taken
It is shocking story of chalta hai (take it easy) attitude of the state and central government that has caused such misery to the people of Bihar.
"There seems to be slackness on both sides. It seems that even the mandatory repair work was not done," says Yubraj Ghimire, senior journalist, from Kathmandu.
According to a high-level source in Indian Embassy in Nepal, on August 10 when Kosi started swelling the threat to the embankment over Kosi on the Nepal side increased.
A team of engineers from Bihar did visit the Sunsari district of Nepal, which falls in Kosi region.
An Indian source in Kathmandu told rediff.com, "The team of engineers from Bihar found that villagers of the surrounding areas were sitting on an embankment to save their own lives and refused to move out or allow the Indian team to conduct repair work. The embankment is the only bridge over Kosi. So they refused to move out."
India and Nepal signed two treaties in the 1950s -- The Kosi Treaty of 1954 and the Gandak Treaty of 1959. Both treaties have been always political issues in elections in Nepal.
"Actually, the engineers never expected that such a big damage will follow soon," says a source in Kathmandu.
When Indian engineers visited Sunsari district, they recorded that river waters were almost 3 meters above on one side of the embankment. The truck carrying materials was not allowed to move near the weak part by the local people. Also, a tussle took place with local contractor over materials.
Nepal is passing through political transition. So higher authorities could not help when the local collector and home secretary were contacted, says a source in Kathmandu.
"If the government of Bihar had conducted regular repair work in the dry season, this calamity could have been averted," says Indian source in Kathmandu.
Kosi's catchment area is massive and the river carries one of the highest amounts of slit in the world. As a result, Nepal is unable to benefit as expected in power generation.
"Nepali government should have been more helpful in helping repairs before August 18," says an Indian officer in Kathmandu.
Email | Print | Get latest news on your desktop