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In troubled waters: Bihar flood situation is critical

Maitri Porecha Kamal Narang | Updated on August 09, 2019 Published on August 09, 2019

Eighteen districts. More than 90 lakh victims. A month later, rescue has been poor

On July 13, five districts in northern Bihar were struck by flash floods. This was an unexpected turn of events in a state that was, until a week earlier, experiencing a weak monsoon. The destruction — spurred by torrential rains in neighbouring Nepal — soon spread to 13 more districts. At last count, the floods had affected more than 90 lakh people.

In Muzaffarpur, 30-year-old Rekha Devi managed to save her six-year-old son Ajit from drowning when the floodwaters submerged their hut. They hurriedly made their way to a relatively safer spot on the Muzaffarpur-Darbhanga highway.

Nearly 100 families are living in makeshift shelters on this highway. Humans and cattle share space in these tiny tents. Children struggle to extract potable water from borewells, even as their homes remain under water.

In Muzaffarpur’s Mithansarai and Madhopur villages, for example, boats are being used to ferry stranded villagers. Meanwhile, in Mustafapur, Darbhanga district, men are building their own boats to facilitate rescue work because the district administration has not provided them with enough vessels to ferry people to the nearest shelter.

Text by Maitri Porecha; Photos by Kamal Narang

Published on August 09, 2019