FOR THE first time in a week, since the swollen Ganga forced them to leave their homes and camp in higher places, residents of Kasaha diara ate dinner sent by the government. The diara, part of Mokama assembly constituency, lies at one end of the Rajendra Setu, on Patna district’s border with Begusarai.
“It is not that we had been going without food,” said Saho Nishad, “but we had been surviving on meagre provisions and trying to prolong our stock as long as possible. Until today, there was no government help.”
When food did arrive Wednesday, it brought scenes of relief all around. Nishad’s children happily started eating chura (beaten rice) from one dish as soon as the family got its share of chura, rice and pulses. The area of about 10,000 people, mostly EBC Mallahs or Nishads, had never seen inundation of this scale in the last 25 years.
“We had been surviving on old stocks or by borrowing and sharing with neighbours,” said Yogendra Nishad of Shivnagar village of Kasaha, spread over 5 km. “It is only because of the presence of media and local politicians that the Mokama block administration has woken up from its slumber and started distributing food.”
“It is true that the Mokama circle officer reacted late,” agreed JD(U) spokesperson and MLC Neeraj Kumar, who toured the area. “We are happy that people are now getting food. We will give the people’s feedback to the state government.”
Kasaha is one of 20-odd belts flooded by a Ganga swollen after the discharge of additional water from UP, MP and Jharkhand. Overall, 12 districts of Bihar have been affected by flooding in riverine and low-lying areas, from Buxar to Bhagalpur along the Ganga, in Rohtas and Saran along the Sone.
Some 30 to 40 per cent of Kasaha diara’s residents earn their living from animal husbandry. As such, their biggest worry was the safety of their cows, buffaloes and goats. Sanjay Nishad and Manti Devi, for example, raised a machan, or elevated bamboo platform, and tied their cattle below it.
“Though the administration sent 14 boats, not one was used to carry our animals, our most precious possession. Some of us paid Rs 1,000 to a private boatman to carry one cow or one buffalo,” said Sugla Devi of Janjeera village.
Living under plastic sheets, hundreds of people are waiting for the Ganga to recede. In the last two days, it has receded two feet but is still hovering around the danger mark, with the Sone putting additional pressure on the Ganga in Buxar.
Disaster management control said 22 people including 11 in Bhojpur have died in the last three days. Over 1.39 lakh people have been evacuated, of whom 1.05 lakh are camping at 162 relief centres across the 12 districts.
Chief Minister Nitish Kumar called on the Prime Minister seeking a solution to floods.