Expert committee to decide on plugging Kosi breach

September 21st, 2008 - 8:32 pm ICT by IANS  

Patna, Sep 21 (IANS) A panel of experts will soon decide on plugging the breach in the Kosi river that triggered one of the worst floods in Bihar, officials said Sunday. The flooding was caused due to a breach in the Kosi embankment in Kusaha in Nepal. The floods have affected three million people in Bihar and claimed at least 60 lives.

Official sources said that a technical committee set up by the Prime Minster’s Office (PMO) will have experts from the union water resources ministry and the Bihar government to decide on flood protection measures and the plugging of the breach.

Under a treaty with Nepal, the Bihar government has been entrusted the task of managing the Kosi river. The funds for repair of the embankments are provided by the union water resources ministry.

Thirty two days after the Kosi river breached its banks, work to repair the embankment is yet to begin, reportedly due to differences between the state and central governments.

“The delay in plugging the breach is giving sleepless nights to government agencies involved in rescue and relief work because they can begin rehabilitation and reconstruction work only after the breach is plugged,” an official of the state disaster management department said.

The state government Thursday wrote a strong letter to the central government asking it to take a decision on plugging the breach at the earliest and complete the work before March 2009.

It also questioned the rationale behind constitution of two committee of experts for the same purpose earlier, which they said was delaying the breach repair plan.

More than three million people in over 1,000 village in Saharsa, Madhepura, Supaul, Arartia and Purnia districts were rendered homeless and over one million cattle affected by the floods caused by the change in course of the Kosi river.

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 Sapaul, one of 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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