Seemanchal in Bihar and Uttar Dinajpur in West Bengal are reeling under an unprecedented flood that has left thousands of villages submerged leading to death of dozens and loss of crop in the last three days. Though rain has stopped, water is receding very slowly. On Sunday night, the deluge triggered by sudden release of water in adjoining Nepal and incessant rain inundated Kishanganj, Purnia, Kathihar, Araria and Uttar Dinajpur.
Kishanganj city is cut off from rest of the district as flood water washed away key roads and snapped communication links. People have taken refuge along the highway from Purnia to Kishanganj. “There is no communication link available right now. Roads have been washed away and telephone network is virtually dead. Water level in Mahananda river and other major rivers is still well above the danger mark,” said Hasan Javed, a local journalist who runs the Facebook page Khabar Seemanchal.
The situation is equally grim in Purnia where 455 villages have been affected in the flood. “This flood is unprecedented. Baisi block is worst hit in Purnia and over all 81 panchayats have been affected. Most of the villages under these panchayats are now surrounded by water,” said Pradip Kumar Jha, District Magistrate of Purnia.
Md Nauman, who runs a plywood shop in Baisi, said water inundated the town in such a short time that people could not reach safer areas or save their belongings. “My entire shop is submerged now and loss to business runs into lakhs,” he said. Hasan said the scale of devastation still can’t be ascertained as of now as the administration is yet to reach the interior areas. “Village after village are under water. People have not been able to move out and help others. In Kishanganj city also, it is really difficult to establish contact,” he said.
Pashim Pali area of Kishanganj has been flooded since Sunday and power supply has been erratic since then. “We have managed to restore power in half of the city and sending dry ration to the affected areas of the district,” said Pankaj Dixit, DM of Kishanganj.
Kishanganj is one of the poorest districts of the country and agriculture is the mainstay of the local economy. With this flood, the entire paddy crop has been destroyed. People are now complaining about the administration’s ‘inability’ in carrying out rescue and relief work. “Water flooded over the road that connects Kishanganj to Bahadurganj and Kochdhaman. A part of this road has been washed away. A small boat is ferrying people but they are charging Rs 100,” said Nehal Akhtar of Kochadhaman. He said the district administration has been callous in its rescue and relief efforts.
Chakulia block in Uttar Dinajapur is also under the grip of flood. Water from the Mahananda river breached the National Highway no 31 on Sunday marooning major part of the area. The power grid in Dalkola is under water, disrupting power supply in the entire region. Officials have said it will take three more days to restore power.
Now that water level is receding, albeit slowly, the administration is facing the difficult task of reaching out to the flood affected. “A sense of desperation is sinking in. People are running short of basic necessities like food and water. Don’t see any effort from the government. Saw a helicopter flying over yesterday but there was no air dropping of food,” said Akram Niyaz of Kanki.