Delay in sealing of breach in Kosi could lead to devastation next year

October 5th, 2008 - 5:38 pm ICT by IANS  

Patna, Oct 5 (IANS) Slow pace of work in sealing the breach in the Kosi river near Kusaha in neighbouring Nepal has the experts worried, who say that the delay could lead to further flooding in the state during the next monsoon. “The work to seal the breach has been badly hit by non-availability of dredgers, which are needed for construction of the pilot channel in Kosi near Kusaha,” an official associated with Kosi Breach Closure Advisory Team (KBCAT) said.

Non-availability of dredgers has virtually stopped the construction of the pilot channel to divert and minimise the water flow.

“At least three dredgers are needed for construction of the pilot channel, only after that the breach can be plugged,” an official of the state disaster management department told IANS.

Official sources said that KBCAT had requested the state government to procure dredgers without any delay if the 1.75 km long breach has to be plugged before March 2009.

It was reported that the central government had released Rs.400 million for the repair work of the Kosi embankment.

A member of the KBCAT has warned the state government that if the work to seal the breach in the Kosi is delayed millions of people will face devastating floods next monsoon.

Officials admitted that earlier delay in the work to plug the breach was reportedly caused due to differences between the state and central governments.

In September, the state government wrote to the central government for a decision on plugging the breach at the earliest and completion of the work before March 2009.

Last month, the state government had decided to seal the breach in the Kosi river.

“The state government has prepared an extensive action plan for completing Kosi breach closure work by Nov 30 following clearance by the central government,” an official of the Water Resources Department said.

Recent flooding in the state was caused due to a breach in the Kosi embankment in Kusaha in Nepal that changed the course of the river.

The floods have affected over three million people in Bihar and claimed 50 lives.

More than three million people in over 1,000 village in Saharsa, Madhepura, Supaul, Araria and Purnea districts were rendered homeless and over one million cattle affected by the floods.

About 989,000 people have been evacuated to safer places and over 350,000 people have taken shelter in over 300 relief camps in flood-affected areas, officials said.

About 50,000 people, who refused to move out despite repeated appeals by the government, were still marooned in Madhepura and Supaul, among the worst hit districts.

The state agriculture department has estimated that standing crops in 175,000 hectares of land have been destroyed.

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