With major rivers in northern Bihar rising menacingly at several places in the state following heavy rains in catchment areas and discharge into the rivers from Nepal, thousands of people have been forced to abandon their homes and hundreds of villages have been flooded, officials said.
The swollen Kosi, Gandak, Bagmati and Mahananda rivers are posing a threat to their embankments and giving sleepless nights to people in Muzaffarpur, Supaul,Sheohar,Gopalganj, Sitamarhi, Araria, East Champaran, West Champaran and Saharsa districts.
Memories of the devastating Kosi floods is haunting the people of the region as the swollen river is posing a threat to its eastern embankment, which was breached before the floods in 2008.
"The floodwater has already entered hundreds of villages in these districts and compelled people to take shelter on embankments, national highways and government buildings in view of the rising water levels in various rivers, particularly Kosi," said an official of the state Disaster Management Department.
The floodwater has reached Sitamarhi-Sheohar National Highway 104 and disrupted traffic.
According to officials, the flooding Bagmati River has affected nearly 1,000 houses in
different villages under Katra and Aurai blocks in Muzaffarpur. The overflowing Kosi has hit 50 villages in Supaul while the swollen Gandak River has affected a dozen villages in Bagha.
According to the Water Resources Department, a lot of water has been discharged into Kosi River in the last one week due to heavy rains in Nepal and Bihar.
Bihar Disaster Management Minister Renu Kumari said four teams of the National Disaster Response Teams had been readied with four boats and life jackets for rescue and relief operations in the flood-affected districts.
"Each team of the NDRF have been given command for rescue and relief operations in Muzaffarpur, Supaul, Gopalganj and Saharsa districts," she said.
The state government has asked engineers and district officials to keep a 24-hour vigil on the embankments.
"I have ordered round-the-clock patrolling of the embankments," said Principal Secretary Afzal Amanullah.
According to WRD officials, the Kosi River breached its bank upstream in Nepal and changed course in 2008. It was the worst natural disaster to have hit Bihar in 50 years.