Bihar lost its 11-day battle to stop the menacing Gandak from smashing the embankment at Batardih in Gopalganj district on Sunday, threatening to displace about 14 lakh people in Gopalganj, Saran and Siwan districts in North Bihar.
The waters of the Gandak, flowing from Nepal, have demolished 600 metres of the embankment, imediately endangering lakhs of people in hundreds of habitations downstream to Siwan and Chapra towns.
The 2-feet high escaping waters spread over a 12-km arc had reached National Highway 28 from Gorakhpur to Muzaffarpur, bringing all traffic to a standstill on Sunday afternoon.
“We have lost the fight. There was nothing more we could have done,” said Abdul Hamid, chief of Flood Fighting Force.
The Nitish Kumar government sounded an alert for Chapra and Siwan towns, each with a population of 2.50 lakh. These two towns are in the direct line of the advancing waters.
“Our worry now is to save the national highway from going under and keep the direct lines of communication open. If the highway is compromised wholly, the railway line will be gone,” said Gopalganj District Magistrate D. Balamurugan.
Nitish Kumar informed the Election Commission of the development and convened an emergency meeting with
senior officers, including Chief Secretary Anup Mukherjee.
He told mediapersons, “The only saving grace is the sheet of water is just 2 feet high. If the rains subside and the release of water is controlled, the area would be spared from devastation.”
Kumar also directed that an all-out relief operation and aerial surveys be started. The state government also put the army columns in Danapur Cantonment on a standby alert. The army personnel from the cantonment had done admirable work during the Kosi rescue and relief operations in 2008.