Bihar floods: Brief calm in Patna could be broken as dams release more water
The flood situation in areas in Bihar along the Ganga River is at a risk of worsening, as water from the Bansagar and Rihand dams in Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh will be released in the next 48 hours.patna Updated: Aug 21, 2016 20:48 IST
The flood situation in areas in Bihar along the Ganga River is at a risk of worsening, as water from the Bansagar and Rihand dams in Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh will be released in the next 48 hours.
More than 400,000 people already have been affected by the swollen river after the discharge of 11.67 lakh cusec water from the Bansagar dam and 50,000 cusec from Rihand. Further discharge of water will only add to the woes of already overwhelmed areas, including Vaishali, Bhojpur, Patna, Aurangabad, Buxar, Samastipur, Begusarai, Munger, Khagaria, Bhagalpur,Chapra and Rohtas.
In view of the situation, chief minister Nitish Kumar has cancelled leaves of civil administration, police and engineering personnel on Sunday, and ordered immediate deployment of more engineers in affected districts.
He also appealed to residents of in low-lying areas to evacuate, for which country boats have deployed to operate for free.
The army and the Indian Air Force have been put on high alert for the next two days, and 10 National Disaster Response Force battalions have arrived in Patna district in addition to two more in Vaishali to carry out rescue and rehabilitation efforts.
Safe for now
Kumar did an aerial survey of affected areas and reviewed the situation along with district magistrates of the 12 affected riparian districts on Sunday afternoon.
“Patna is safe for now, but it must be prepared for tomorrow,” he said, after the survey.
“It’s not as if the Gangetic stretch has received more water than before, but excessive siltation means the river is flowing on a much higher bed and so is the water,” Kumar added. “If the Farakka treaty with Bangladesh is not reviewed by the Centre — which allows a fixed discharge at all times — Bihar’s future is bleak.”
Central Water Commission (CWC) officials said it was keeping its fingers crossed on the Bihar situation.
Executive engineer of CWC in Patna Narendra Nath Shankar told HT, “We cannot predict (what will happen) tomorrow. There has been so much rain in Uttar Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh that the Ganga and its tributaries, like Sone, would continue to swell. Also the Bansagar water is yet to enter the Ganga, which it may do early morning Monday. That could raise the level to record highs, if the Farakka does not discharge over its fixed capacity”.
Officials said the state had on Saturday sent an “SOS” to the Centre to allow for higher Farakka discharge and some gates were opened to alleviate the ponding effect upstream between Farakka in Bengal and Patna.
The Ganga, however, is unable to contain the water entering from its tributaries such as the Mahananda, Sone, Punpun, Kosi, Adhwara group of rivers, and Kosi and Gandak.
Water resources department officials said while the Gandhi Ghat in Patna registered a high of 50.52 metres, above the 1994 mark of 50.27 metres at 6 am of Sunday, by noon it had fallen at 3 cm per hour to 50.40 metres.
However, a high of over 60 metres was registered in Buxar, which flattens off over the lower riparian areas as water spreads to nearby districts of Bhojpur and Saran — offering some relief to Patna.
“With all drain outlets into the Ganga sealed, Patna could relax for now,” district magistrate Sanjay Kumar Agarwal said.
He said relief and evacuation teams moved thousands of people to safety from the state capital and nearby Danapur over the last 24 hours.