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Water increases in Kosi following blast in Nepal

PTI 03 Aug 2014, 13:17:43 PM IST
PTI
Patna: Water level of Kosi River in Bihar increased on Sunday after the Nepalese Army carried out low-intensity blasts to remove the landslide debris from a river in Nepal to free the huge quantity of water accumulated there.

"The Nepal Army has not been entirely successful in removing the landslide debris that has blocked Bhote Kosi river and turned it into a lake. The Army conducted a series of low-level intensity blasts yesterday evening, releasing a few thousand cusecs of water," Water Resources Minister Vijay Kumar Chaudhary said.

The landslide and the ensuing damming of Bhote Kosi, a major tributary of Kosi, has occurred at Jure in Sindhupalchok district of Nepal. The place is located north of Kathmandu and around 260 km from the Bihar-Nepal border.

"Water released after the blasts has started reaching Bihar. We have noticed increase in the level of Kosi River at various places," Chaudhary said.

The minister said a series of activities were still going on at Jure to remove the blockage of Bhote Kosi and more water was expected to flow down and enter Kosi.

"According to our information, the blockage on Bhote Kosi is around 1 kilometre in length and removing it to free the river is a tough task. Our teams of officials in Nepal are keeping a watch on the situation," he said.

The Bhote Kosi was blocked on Friday after a massive landslide cut loose huge portions of mountains which fell on the river. Around 25 lakh cusec of water has accumulated there as a result and the government there is trying to blast it free since then.

The Bihar government had issued a high alert on Saturday and ordered evacuation of people living the low-lying areas close to Kosi, saying a 10-metre high wall of water could sweep down the river after the accumulated water becomes free.

The evacuation of around 1.5 lakh people in eight districts is still going on in various areas of north Bihar.

Disaster Management Department (DMD) Principal Secretary Vyasji appealed to the people living in between the Kosi River and its embankments to shift to the relief camps established by the state government at 84 places in the Kosi river basin districts.

The districts are Supaul, Saharsa, Madhepura, Khagaria, Bhagalpur, Araria, Purnia and Madhubani.

If needed, the people of would be removed by force to save their lives, Vysaji said.

The state government had sought the help of the army on Saturday and armymen have arrived to help in rescue and relief work, he said.

"Three columns of the Army have taken position in Supaul, Saharsa and Madhepura districts to oversee evacuation, relief and rescue operations. Seven companies of National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) from Kolkata have also started arriving. They will add to the eight NDRF companies already present in the Kosi basin area of the state," Vyasji said.

NDRF teams were currently engaged in Supaul, Saharsa, Madhepura, and Khagaria districts and, along with the district administration, evacuated thousands of people so far and took them to relief camps, said NDRF Commandant Vijay Sinha stationed at Supaul.

Evacuation has also started in Darbhanga district by the NDRF, Sinha said.

Indian Air Force (IAF) helicopters from its Gorakhpur base in Uttar Pradesh would also be used in rescue and relief operations if required, the DMD principal secretary said.

Experts have estimated that 40 per cent of the released water will reach Bihar.

All the 56 sluice gates of Birpur barrage with a capacity of 8 lakh cusec were kept open to tackle the massive flow of water.

The state government is keeping its fingers crossed that the Kosi disaster of 2008 is not repeated.

A breach in Kosi embankment at Kushaha in Nepal on August 18, 2008 had brought one of the most disastrous floods in Bihar. The river changed its course, killing hundreds of people and displacing around 30 lakh people besides destroying agricultural land of around 8 lakh acres.