The Weekend Leader - Buried livelihood

Public hearing brings out plight of ’08 Kosi flood victims



Vol 3 | Issue 33

Four years after Bihar's Kosi region was ravaged by floods, an ambitious programme to rebuild a new-look Kosi region with World Bank help is yet to show results with hundreds of thousands of victims still fighting for survival, activists say.

Thousands of acres of cultivable land destroyed in 2008 in the Kosi region are still covered with sand, activists said.

The nature's fury hit hard hundreds of thousands. Many thousands of houses which were washed away or damaged are yet to be built, the activists say.

Much of this was revealed Saturday at a Jan Sunwai (public hearing) here organised by two voluntary organisations.

Information acquired through the Right to Information by activist Mahendra Yadav has revealed that about 14,129.70 acres of cultivable land in Basantpur in Supaul district are still covered by sand.

The sand was brought in by the overflowing Kosi four years ago.

"This is enough to estimate how much cultivable land is still covered by sand in Madhepura, Saharsa and Supaul districts," Yadav of the Kosi Nav Nirman Manch said.

Another activist, Ranjeev, complained that Chief Minister Nitish Kumar's programme to rebuild a new-look Kosi region remained on paper.

"Four years have passed but hundreds of thousands of people are still fighting for their survival in the Kosi region. Their demand to remove deposit of sand from cultivable land and to construct houses have been ignored."

Ranjeev said that not more than five percent of the houses were reconstructed in four years.

"As per official records, 236,632 houses were washed away and damaged in the floods. The government pledged to construct 100,000 houses with a World Bank loan. But not more than 5,000 houses have come up," said Ranjeev, who regularly visits Kosi.

"Four years is a long time as sand-filled cultivable land is causing hardship to farmers," he said.

An official of the state disaster management department said the government was working on formulating a special scheme for removing sand. He said farmers will be trained on farming ways in sand-filled land.

In May, Nitish Kumar admitted that sand deposits in cultivable land was a major problem for farmers.

On Aug 18, 2008, the eastern Kosi embankment was breached, flooding five districts of northern Bihar.

Over three million people were rendered homeless when the Kosi breached its bank upstream in Nepal and changed course. It was said to be the worst flood in the state in 50 years.

Ironically, a one-man commission headed by Justice Rajesh Walia, set up Sep 10, 2008, to probe the cause of the breach in Kusaha in Nepal, is yet to submit its report. - IANS

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