Bihar floods worsen, over 100 villages inundated

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IANS | Jul 4, 2011, 12.46pm IST

PATNA: Hundreds of thousands of people in Bihar are living in fear after heavy rains caused several rivers to swell and flood over 100 villages, officials said Monday.

The Bagmati river breached its embankment in Muzaffarpur district, while the rising waters in the Gandak and Kosi rivers are also posing a serious threat.

"Bagmati river breached its embankment near Basghatta village in Muzaffarpur, creating panic in dozens of villages as the flood waters entered their homes," said a disaster management department official.

All the inundated villages are in the flood-prone districts of Muzaffarpur, Gopalganj, Purnia, Araria, Saharsa, Madhepura and Bagaha, officials said.

Reports reaching here said road communication was snapped as water flooded many rural roads in the Katra block of Muzaffarpur.

In Sitamarhi district, flood waters entered a Border Security Force (BSF) camp at Sonbarsa and forced security personnel to shift to a safer place.

The Kosi is posing a threat to its eastern embankment and the Gandak waters are also threatening a newly constructed embankment in Gopalganj district, an official of the disaster management department said.

A water resource department official said the major rivers in these areas were swollen following heavy rains in the state and in the catchment areas of Nepal in the last few days.

According to the Central Water Commission, the water level in major rivers - Kosi, Mahananda, Gandak, Budhi Gandak, Kamla Balan and Bagmati - is rising and flowing above the danger mark at some places.

After two consecutive years of drought, the fear of floods is back in Bihar with incessant rains and heavy water discharge in the Kosi river from Nepal.

However, Bihar Water Resource Development Minister Vijay Kumar Choudhary said all embankments were safe and there was no need to panic. "The government is ready to face any eventuality if the river waters become a threat," he said.

Choudhary said the government has taken prepatory measures to protect embankments, but conceded that several villages in flood prone districts face a threat.

Reports suggested that the authorities have asked hundreds of people to shift to safer places due to the rising Kosi waters. The state government has asked engineers and district officials to keep a 24-hour vigil.

Choudhary said the eastern Kosi embankment, which had breached in 2008, flooding five districts of northern Bihar, was totally safe. "We are taking care of it. There is no need to panic."

In 2008, over three million people were rendered homeless in Bihar when the Kosi river breached its bank upstream in Nepal and changed course. It was said to be the worst flood in the state in 50 years.