Residents of some 60 villages in northeast Bihar’s Supaul district, displaced by a bridge project that sought to tame river Kosi, have been seeking justice. If no one has heard them in five years, it is because their zone of despair is split among three assembly constituencies — Pipra, Chhatapur and Nirmali.
Work on the Kosi rail-cum-road bridge on NH57 linking Darbhanga and Forbesganj began in 2010, the year when the Kosi caused unprecedented havoc in four blocks it has been nurturing for ages.
A diagnosis of the deluge revealed it was more man-made than natural. An expert panel headed by former Central Water Commission chairman Gokul Das blamed it on the bridge that altered Kosi’s natural flow. The river was earlier flowing in four channels that had a total width of 15km.
“We were against this bridge. Besides destroying the fields of farmers, it has led to schools being relocated putting the future of 14,000 schoolchildren in jeopardy,” said Satyanarayan Prasad of Kosi Mahasetu Pidit Sangharsh Samiti.
“Our plight is not a poll issue because the four affect blocks are divided among three assembly seats. Representatives pass the buck, and as such our displacement is nobody’s baby,” said Yogendra Mandal who produced 20 quintals of rice annually before Kosi took his paddy field in Banainia village away.
Villagers also feel the indifference could be because Dalits, Mahadalits and Muslims constitute 95% of the displaced.