Rising Kosi floods 50 villages, threatens many Bihar districts

Patna:The rain-swollen Kosi river has flooded about 50 villages in Supaul district of Bihar, forcing people to abandon their homes, and the river system is threatening hundreds of villages in over half a dozen districts, officials said. "Nearly 200 thatched houses in Ghogharia panchayat in Supaul have been washed away by waters overflowing from Kosi river," a district official said. "Water levels in the Kosi river system are rising over the past two days, threatening hundreds of villages in over half a dozen districts," an official of the state disaster management department said. "Flood waters entered over 50 villages in Supaul district," the official said. The department officials said that fear of floods is gripping villages in Supaul again with Kosi and other rivers rising because of heavy rains in Bihar and in the catchment areas in neighbouring Nepal. The state government has alerted engineers and asked them to keep a 24-hour vigil in the area. "All engineers have been directed to be ready with necessary equipment and boulders to face any situation and to protect the embankments," an official said. Bihar's Water Resources Development Minister Lalan Singh said all embankments were safe and there was no need to panic. He said the eastern Kosi embankment, which had breached in 2008, flooding five districts of northern Bihar, was totally safe. "The embankment was strengthened and breach repair work was completed," he said. In 2008, more than three million people were rendered homeless in Bihar when the Kosi river breached its bank upstream in Nepal and changed course. It was said to be the worst flood in the state in over 50 years.