Friday, November 21, 2008

Bihar Flood: A NATIONAL DISASTER by Oliver from Chennai

NATIONAL DISASTER

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Agriculture land is now, fishing land. 
 

My observations during Bihar visit 

It was my first visit to Bihar. I reached Saharsa on 22nd Sep with two volunteers from Chennai. I saw hundreds of family taken the shelter on railway platforms. Hundreds of children were seen with no dress. We went to our relief office (centre) just 1km from railway station. We met Dharmendra, then we got freshen up and went to back to Saharsa railway station with medicines to put up medical camp. Kosi people’s relief committee was known to be the first association to put up camp in Saharsa station to help the people, who left their house due to flood. AID India medical team set up their camp for two full days headed by Dr.Sailakshmi (of CIOSA) specialized in Pediatric. Many people were screened by Dr.Sai, especially women and children. This medical team also visited many villages thereby reaching service to thousands of families. 

My field visits with Rajesh and Greg:

Mr. Greg Bentley from California volunteered AID - Bihar for two week. He came on 30th Sep and the same day we went to Tirveniganj block of Supaul district. We met Rajesh (former mukhia of Koriapatti Panchayat); a young and brave person always involves himself in social services activities. Rajesh currently volunteers for AID – Bihar. He is the person in charge carrying out our relief work in Supaul district keeping Tirveniganj block as the base. 

Your browser may not support display of this image.Your browser may not support display of this image.Village visit: On 30th September evening, we went to Dhoparka village. There we met villagers and visited some of their damaged homes. We saw many electrical posts, and underground telephone cables were broken & damaged. Pucca roads were fully damaged and seen like kutcha roads as it was cut off into many pieces. 

Your browser may not support display of this image.On 1st October around 7am we were travelling towards Prathapganj block in a jeep. We reached a place called Pipra were our vehicle caught in a huge traffic jam. We planned to take diversion, but we were interested to know the reason for early morning traffic. It was on NH-107, were people residing in one of the relief camp run by government in Pipra higher secondary school went on road strike against government. We just peeped into the closed circle and it was Rajesh who shocked to see and hear that a lady belonged to his own village was forced to sexual abuse by group of home guard (police) person on the previous night. And her husband and brother lying on the centre of the road were severely beaten up for complaining in nearby police station, by the police man. It was the fourth incident in the same week in the same camp, where women were sexually abused by police person and there was no action taken by the police even after complaining. We visited the camp site and studied the situation. Rajesh immediately informed the situation to DM, SP, local radio channel and few news agents. It was around 11’o’ clock, we took diversion and started moving towards Prathapganj. The traffic jam was on long stretch (more than 2km) and people going to distance places like Katmandu (Nepal) suffered had to wait till evening. Rajesh followed the situation every now and then and helped the victims to get justice. Next day almost every paper had the top story reporting the strike news stating that the three accused were suspended from job and kept under judicial custody. 

The lifelines: We went to Dwania & Gandsai villages in Prathapganj block and Kataiya & Banellipatti village in Basanthpur block. All these villages were heavily damaged, thousands of families have displaced to other place. Peoples lost their homes, agriculture (fertile) land and cattle’s. Many villages are still out of reach, those villages are like islands, cut off from transport & communication, even the state government has not reached till the date in many villages.

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Your browser may not support display of this image.Your browser may not support display of this image.Your browser may not support display of this image.Your browser may not support display of this image.Kosi in new course: It was around 1:30pm in Basanthpur block. We were in a place called 22RD bridge for field visit, 12km closer to Nepal border. We planned to visit the broken embankment by Kosi River in Nepal. Finally, we reached India-Nepal border by passing through Bhimnagar village which touches the Nepal border. Our flood relief banner tied on the vehicle was our passport. We travelled 12km from the border towards the broken embankment in Nepal. We were asked to stop our vehicle before 2km as the reconstruction work of river bank was on process. We reached the spot at 3pm and interacted with Nepal Army men, boatmen and construction worker. We came to know that the river bank actually broke on 08/08/08 to 150mtrs and was left out unattended, which actually needed immediate repair/ blockage. Currently it has enlarged nearly 1.85km.

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ß The scene behind in the picture is the actual spot where the Kosi broke river embankment and formed a new course on right side                                       .                                                 *Usually it turns to left side, which enters into Bihar through Kosi Barrage (à).  

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2nd October:  

The unattended ……

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All these dead bodies and animals were found lying on farm land. We happened to see all these bodies exactly on the 50th day of the flood, affected in Mirjawa village of Supaul district. The whole village was stinking with dead body smell. We saw two human dead bodies and nearly dozen of cattle’s dead in the same village. We immediately reported it to nearby villagers to remove them. The people replied that they witnessed hundreds of dead bodies and cattle’s that washed away from their own village during flood and they removed many such unknown bodies. 

ß  People living in tents & huts on both side of bank of BMC cannel in Barakhurwa village                     . Your browser may not support display of this image.Your browser may not support display of this image.                             * Tents on the bank of 120km BMC canal (the main stream and longest canal emerging from Kosi in Bihar). à

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ß People getting their meal in government camp, Auralha village

      *  SC families in their tents, Gunaha village à 
       
       

3rd October:  

Your browser may not support display of this image.Your browser may not support display of this image.We went to Maktab in Tirveniganj, were 182 Muslim families have taken shelter in a primary school. These families are the residents from Koriapatti, Manganj, Gudia, Barakhurwa, and Dopaharka Panchayat. We served milk and biscuit to 200 children at 7am. 

Your browser may not support display of this image.Your browser may not support display of this image.We reached Thitvaha village, were we came to know that more than 1500 families displaced from Lagunia, Mirjawa and Jarkahe villages built tents themselves and they dint receive any relief from government. We included this settlement area in our relief list.  

Your browser may not support display of this image.Your browser may not support display of this image. Around 1pm we reached Shivnagar with great difficulty. The roads were tattered. It was lunch time in the relief camp. About 300 Children were served first with rice and daal. We interacted with school HM and came to know that nearly 530 families and 4 children had died in past one month due to severe dioheria. We gave 5 packets containing 500 halogen tablets. On that day we came across a child suffering from severe dioheria and vomiting. We immediately took the child to Govt. Referral Hosp that 25km away from that village. 

Your browser may not support display of this image.Your browser may not support display of this image.Your browser may not support display of this image.Your browser may not support display of this image.Your browser may not support display of this image.We visited Govt. Mega camp in Malhanva. The camp strength was approximately 10500 people, in that 2500 were children. The camp was under the supervision of Army who provided tents to the people who were asked to share among two families. This camp is been supported by UNICEF especially for child care. The camp had decent facility of medical care, SSA school, telephone booth, drinking water, training centre, toilet & sanitation. People were given new set of cloths, plate, and glass. Some people started petty shops in camps, with the left out items.       

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4th October: 

Your browser may not support display of this image.Your browser may not support display of this image.On this day we entered in Singeshwar village (in Singeshwar block of Madhepura district). The water has receded in this block and government was reconstructing bridges and laying roadsthat was going on full fledge.

Your browser may not support display of this image.Your browser may not support display of this image.Your browser may not support display of this image.Your browser may not support display of this image.This type of Bamboo Bridge can be seen in almost in all the flood affected areas (villages) to connect cutoff roads. In our visit we also came to know shocking information that in some villages, these types of bridges were laid in previous flood which came in 2004. 
 
 
 
 

Your browser may not support display of this image.Your browser may not support display of this image.On the same evening we went to Mirjawa village to distribute food packets to 100 families containing Chudha, Channa, Atta, Candle & Matchbox, Rice and cloths. These families were identified by Rajesh with the help of  villagers for support. The selected family members were told to come to a spot at 4pm. People also cooperated well in distribution work. 
 

The reality: -  It seems like “food for work” has now changed to “fight for food”. 

Yes, many people are struggling to get their share (food). This is also one of the main news which comes in local news paper like Hindustan and Dainik Jagaran. But on this day we witnessed once such issue in Maojama village of Shankarpur block. There was a clash between two villages Madheli and Maojama. People from both villages were demanding for food grains, to be distributed it their respective village fist. It was the first time the relief from state government had reached their village since the flood affected on 19th august.

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Your browser may not support display of this image.In response to devastating flood occurred on 18/08/08.      Oliver,

AID – India, Chennai 

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