Madhepura turns ghost town as Kosi swamps everything in way

August 31st, 2008 - 4:51 pm ICT by IANS  

Madhepura (Bihar), Aug 31 (IANS) With thousands fleeing to escape the ever-rising waters of the Kosi river, Madhepura town in Bihar is on the verge of becoming a ghost town.Over 80 percent habitants have fled and the remaining are trying to move to safer places with the entire town almost swamped by the surging waters of the Kosi river, a district administration official said Sunday.

“Barely 10 to 15 percent of the town’s residents are living here,” Lalan Kumar Singh, a resident of Gulzarbagh, a colony in Madhepura town, about 250 km from here, told IANS on telephone Sunday.

According to Singh, more people were set to leave as the water level rose since Saturday.

The Kosi river, sometimes called the ‘Sorrow of Bihar’, changed its course after almost two centuries following a breach in an embankment upstream in Nepal.

“Most of the women and children have been shifted outside the town after the floodwaters entered the town a week ago,” Sahdeo Sah, a resident of Station Road in Madhepura, said.

District administration officials admitted that over 30,000 of the town’s 45,000 populace have fled since the last week.

Unlike annual floods, there is little hope that the waters of the Kosi will recede. The waters could be there till October and people have no option but to move to safer places, Singh said.

Most shops, except for a few chemists, are shut. Government and private offices as well as educational institutions are closed too.

The train traffic from Madhepura, once Railways Minister Lalu Prasad’s constituency and now represented by Rashtriya Janata Dal’s jailed MP Pappu Yadav, has been totally disrupted.

The floods have claimed 35 lives, with 20 people dying Friday when their boat capsized in Madhepura. Over 2.5 million people have been affected.

The worst affected districts are Madhepura, Saharsa and Supaul, where panic-stricken people have taken shelter on rooftops, railway tracks and canal embankments.

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