Why is there a flood every year in Bihar?

Bihar flood
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Rahul Kumar

Patna, July 29, 2020: Bihar, which is suffering from Coronavirus pandemic, is in the grip of flood once again. Flooding is not a new thing for Bihar. Bihar has to bear the brunt of floods every year. This is a very sad tradition that has been going on for years, so far no concrete initiative has been taken. The government makes claims every year and every year the flood sweeps away all those claims.

Last year too, there was a flood in Bihar. About 139 people died. Around 1.71 crore people in 17 districts of the state were affected. The houses of 8.5 lakh people had got damaged and about eight lakh acres of crops were completely destroyed. Patna too was submerged. Water had entered hundreds of homes. Millions of people were trapped. Many shops, hospitals, markets, showrooms were all submerged. According to the information given by the Ministry of Home Affairs in the Lok Sabha on July 23, 2019, 970 people died in Bihar between 2016 and 2019 due to floods.

Decades of flood-tales, over a thousand deaths
Talking about the last two decades, 2017, 2008, 2007, 2004 and 2002 were the most devastating years for Bihar. In 2017, 514 people died. In 2008, 18 districts and about 5 million people were hit by floods and 258 people were killed. In 2007, floods wreaked havoc in 22 districts, 24 million people were affected and 1,287 people lost their lives.

This year more than 1.5 million people have been affected by floods till now in 11 districts. At least 625 panchayats have been flooded. The everyday life of the people there has been destroyed. So far eight people have died. Four people died in West Champaran and four in Darbhanga.

Improper policies and dam construction disrupts the natural flow of water causing flood

Professor Dinesh Kumar Mishra, who has been working for a long time on floods and rivers in Bihar, has written more than a dozen books on floods. He does not consider flood to be a disaster and says that parts of North Bihar are close to the Himalayas and the natural flow of water is due to the rivers originating from there. This is a natural process. Earlier, water used to come and go in the village, the elders of the village were not afraid of water, they knew that we would have trouble for a month or two and then the water would go back. Then there was not as much damage as it does today. The government’s mismanagement and wrong policies are responsible for this.

Mishra further says that the government has constructed dams to stop the flow of rivers, but no policy has been made about what will happen to the accumulated water, how many days the water will remain there. The soil also remains on the other side of the dam due to the stoppage of water flow, this increases the soil layer on the river. Due to this, the water level of the rivers rises and the water either comes out of the dam or breaks, which fills the villages.

Mishra said that the limits of rivers were limited by creating embankments, dams, barrages, which only resulted in losses rather than benefits. Due to the construction of embankments, a wall was erected between the rivers and the people. Due to the embankments made to stop the flood, silt started to accumulate in the rivers, which raised the river’s level. As a result, the water that must go to the sea goes to the villages and takes the form of a flood.