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Raising hopes that there may not be too much cause for worry in Bihar, the Central Water Commission (CWC) has told the Centre that the water level in Kosi would be raised by less than a metre even if the artificial lake created in Nepal due to a landslide bursts.
Government sources told HT that the CWC assessment — based on a spot visit and a computer stimulation exercise — was shared with the National Crisis Management Committee (NCMC) that met on Sunday, its fourth meeting since Saturday afternoon. Cabinet secretary Ajit Seth heads the panel.
Officials, however, indicated that the government had to be prepared for any eventuality and would take a call on Monday if people should be asked to stay put in relief camps or return home.
The decision would depend on the ability of the state government to again evacuate people within a fixed timeframe. The NCMC has been told that the water would take nearly 20 hours — and not 10-12 hours estimated earlier — to enter India.
“This gives us enough time. Right now, there is no need to panic,” a source said. “But it is prudent to take precautions since rains in the upper reaches — combined with the surge from Bhote Kosi — could create difficulties.”
In Patna, chief minister Jitan Ram Manjhi too reassured people that there was no immediate threat of flood in the Kosi and stressed that the state was geared up to face any eventuality.
The CM said all 56 gates of the Birpur Kosi barrage had been lifted for smooth flow of water and the river bed in the downstream was cleared so that it could absorb the maximum flow of the river.
“At the moment we don’t expect any problem either in the lower or the upper stream of the river”, he said. “We are also confident that unless there is unprecedented discharge, the embankments would remain intact,” Manjhi told reporters.
“We have also been assured by Union home minister Rajnath Singh and agriculture minister Radha Mohan Singh of all help,” he said. A senior Bihar official, however, later complained that the Centre was rather slow in providing the state “precise information”.