Army Engineers to help repair barrage on Kosi

September 3rd, 2008 - 9:31 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Sep 3 (IANS) India Wednesday offered the assistance of Indian Army engineers and the Border Roads Organisation (BRO) to repair a barrage on the Kosi River in Nepal after a breach in its embankment inundated large swathes of Bihar.The offer to repair the Bheem Nagar barrage came after Cabinet Secretary K.M. Chandrashekhar and Defence Secretary Vijay Singh visited the flood-ravaged state.

“Regarding the repair of the Bheem Barrage on river Kosi where the breach took place, the Centre has offered the help of Army Engineers and the BRO,” said defence ministry spokesman Sitanshu Kar.

The barrage on Kosi river was built in 1954 after a water-sharing pact between India and Nepal. The barrage was built by India and according to the pact, the Bihar government has been entrusted the responsibility of maintaining it.

The floods triggered by the Kosi have affected over 2.5 million people in 1,598 villages spread over 15 districts of Bihar.

The Kosi, sometimes called the “sorrow of Bihar”, changed its course after almost two centuries following a breach in an embankment upstream in Nepal. Unlike annual floods, there is little hope that the waters of the Kosi will recede soon.

Thirty-seven columns of the army, nearly 4,500 army men and 21 army medical teams have been deployed for rescue operations in six flood-hit districts of Bihar. The Indian Navy has also moved in 100 additional specialised divers, taking the total number of divers involved in the rescue operations to 250.

“The Indian Army and Indian Navy have moved in 40 and 42 more rubber boats, respectively. The army has moved in 500 tents from Kanpur to Bihar. Each tent can accommodate 10-12 people,” Indian Army spokesman Lt. Col. A.K. Mathur told reporters here.

The army on an average has been evacuating 20,000 to 25,000 people a day. It has set up three nodal centres under the supervision of three Brigadiers at Danapur, Katihar and Khagaria to manage the operations.

The Indian Air Force has also pitched in with 11 helicopters and three IL-76s, 13 AN-32 and two Avro transport aircraft for airlifting defence personnel and relief material.

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