A few days back I had gone to my native place, Mahishi. After completing the Pooja rituals and pleasantries exchanged with Badi Bhabhi and others left for Saharsa. On return journey visited a small stretch of eastern Koshi embankment passing through the outskirts of my village. The Koshi flood, sufferings of the displaced families, breaches in the embankment since 1984, miserable failure of the Bihar government in rehabilitation measures, a new culture of government relief taking monstrous dimensions, and at the same time new civilization and cultures emerging in make-shift hutment colonies coming up on spurs and downstream of embankments, and more emphatically and extensively, the unrestricted corruption in bureaucracy and their strong nexus with local political big-wigs have been my favourite topics in journalism. So, standing on eastern koshi embankment along with my family members, I was filled with strange emotions —- typical nostalgia I plunged in and in flashback rushed in the heart-rending scenes of women and children floating on flowing flood water helplessly as nobody could dare dive into the flood water to rescue them, three old persons husband wife and a family friend taking shelter in a tree-trunk all night ,children crying, struggling and fighting for air-dropped relief materials relief camps jam-packed with displaced persons , diarrhoea- dysentery plaguing the flood victims and to cap it all, a trail of tragic consequences caused by the complete loss of everything—– no exaggeration, they have lost literally everything.
I was really shocked to see the middle part of the koshi’s womb completely empty and dry with no water in the river-bed. People living in between the two koshi embankments have heaved a sigh of relief temporarily. But situation can turn alarming with expected high release of water from the Koshi barrage, According to the flood victims, there has been a menacing increase in the level of the river-bed due to the enormous quantity of silt brought every year(since the construction of barrage and embankments) by the Koshi river. As the water containing capacity of the river bed has declined substantially , the release of even smaller quantity can prove disastrous. “ kal tak to chaar lakh cusec paani chhodne per baarh ki ggambhirta dikhaayee deti thi..Ab to 2 lakh cusec paani chhodne per rooh kaanpne lagti hei . Is ilaake ko to bhagwaan hi bachaa sakte hein.”
It’s a matter of some satisfaction that the newly appointed madam collector has geared up the administrative machinery for flood protection and relief operations. But we will have to wait and see how far she succeeds in combating the flood this year. God bless her in her mission !