Bihar had become a drought-hit area, and then recently got flooded, receiving 10% extra rain than usual. Arguably, was this a man-made calamity more than a natural disaster? Read on to find out the Bihari diaspora’s take on it.
In hard-hit Bihar, a bird’s-eye-view of state capital Patna made the city appear like a huge lake dotted with concrete structures. Posh low-lying areas like Rajendra Nagar and Pataliputra Colony were flooded. Private hospitals, medical stores and other shops were submerged in waist-deep water. In several parts of Patna, waterlogging had thrown normal life out of gear. Although the rains have stopped now, and waterlogging has receded in most parts, a closer look reveals a bigger picture than just a natural calamity.
Owing to unexpected and torrential rainfall of 200 mm, almost all areas of the capital of Bihar have been flooded, with water entering homes, offices and other buildings, and standing on the roads. The social media was buzzing with netizens sharing videos of the flood affected area and making satire of #HowdyModi event in which the PM said, all is fine in India.
Flooding in the city appeared to have been caused by a choked, damaged and dysfunctional drainage system, and delayed activation of pumps at the sump houses. The floods were so severe that animal carcasses were seen on several roads.
Dinesh Mishra, a civil engineer and flooding expert, while speaking to a national daily said, “The authorities have the resources, money and workforce to arrive at a solution. However, planning of drainage systems and efficient sump machines are nowhere to be seen. Authorities have pushed the city to the edge of disaster by misusing public money. Also, now, they all come up with the excuse of ‘climate change.’”
The state of Bihar has gloomed with tragedies this year. First the encephalitis outbreak in Muzzafarpur took hundreds of life in June 2019, then drought hit severel parts of the state in early September damaging agriculture, and then the recent floods have disturbed lives of millions of people in the capital city Patna. Floods are not a rare phenomena in Bihar, the Kosi river is infamous for flooding Khagaria and northern parts of Bihar every year, but the scale and intensity of this retreating monsoon’s flood was as big as the disastrous floods of 1987 and 2004 which took 1,400 and 3,272 lives respectively.
It was not only Patna but also towns like Kaimur, Bhagalpur, Araria, Banka, Munger and Muzzafarpur that faced the wrath of this catastrophe. A more haunting statistic suggests that 494 panchayats in 15 districts were submerged in water when the flood was at its peak. The death toll neared 120 in first four days. Lack of a robust political administration seemed to have aggravated the death toll and loss due to floods.
Rahul Kumar, a student of DU hailing from Buxar says, “What I think, is that the flood is a result of mismanagement and government failure. As a Bihari, what I think is in Bihar, government officials love good flood and droughts because they get chance to make money out of it. This is a man made disaster and not only the government, but we are also fully responsible for the same.”
Suyash Jha, a fresher from the varsity who hails from Bhagalpur says that these floods have now become a routine affair. “The compound of my grandfather’s home at VIP Road, Laheriasarai get water from overflowing drains every year for the last 10 years now. Despite several requests to the administration to work on the drainage system in the area no real action has been taken.”
Shivam Srivastava, a third-year student was in Delhi when the unstoppable rain started in Patna on 28th September. He says, “It was really flabbergasting to see the Chief Minister say something like ‘Yeh toh prakritik apada hai, isme hum kuch nahi karsakte,’ (This is a natural calamity, we cannot help it,).”
Feature Image Credits: Rahul Kumar