Illegal sand mining in river beds blamed for flood fury in Bihar’s East and West Champaran
Unabated illegal sand mining in river beds is now being cited as the major cause for the flood havoc, which claimed over 60 lives in East and West Champaran districts of north Bihar.
Disaster management department officials said rampant illegal sand mining weakened the embankments at many places along Gandak river, which collapsed in the face of steady build-up of water in the rain catchment areas.
They said the floods had already affected 35 lakh people in the two districts and the situation still remained grim.
Officials said there had been extensive damage to embankments at Sikta, Mainatand and Gaunaha areas where illegal sand mining was rampant, while the protection bunds along Kartaha, Masan, Dohram, Oraiya, Birha, Bhangaha- Gadiyani and Pandooi rivers had caved in. “Hundreds of villages still lie totally submerged and the damage to homes, infrastructure and crops have been extensive at places such as at Majhaulia,” they added.
In Bagaha, the Masan is said to have washed away standing crops and countless homes, rendering hundreds homeless.
Mohiuddin of Sheikwa Tola in Ramnagar and Mohammad Ekbal of Raybahuary village in Bagaha block said the floods had destroyed everything they had. Many have had no food for days, they said.
Mahesh Tiwari of Bahuary village said hundreds of families were stranded on the embankment of Masan. The havoc this time was unprecedented, he said.
In Areraj area of East Champaran, a pregnant women, Kusum Devi, 28, of Sakhwa Toke village in Malahi police station area died because of lack of care. The nearest primary health centre was inaccessible due to strong currents all around.
At Raxaul on India-Nepal border, officials reported that 124 small and major roads had been destroyed, cutting off access to a large area. All roads to Dhaka and Patahi, meanwhile, remain submerged, making it difficult to reach relief to the marooned.
Meanwhile, there were reports of violence by people in distress in areas of Ramnagar and Yogapatti , where people attacked relief convoys and locked up the offices of the circle officer and the block development officer.