Bihar, along with some areas in other States like Assam, West Bengal and Uttar Pradesh, is severely flood-affected. The situation in Seemanchal (Bihar) is especially horrifying. According to government statistics 18 districts—Kishanganj, Arariya, Purnea, Katihar, Eastern Champaran, Western Champaran, Darbhanga, Madhubani, Muzaffarpur, Sitamarhi, Shivhar, Samastipur, Gopalganj, Saran, Supoul, Madhepura, Saharsa and Khagariya—are flood-affected, a total of 341 people are dead, and crores of people have suffered loss and destruction of property. These are government statistics; the actual figures could be much higher.
The government is trying to propagate the sense that release of water by Nepal is responsible for causing floods in Bihar every year. Last year Nitish Kumar had blamed the Farakka dam project for the floods but since he is back this year in government with the BJP, he is now silent on this issue. The truth is that the failure of water managements, dams and embankments is the cause of the floods. Successive governments have only played politics on this issue; none has tried to solve the problem. River expert Dinesh Mishra says that Nepal is not releasing any water; water can be released only by those who are holding it, that is, by the water resources department managing the barrages on the Kosi, Gandak and Kamla rivers. The barrages which are in Nepal are at a minimum distance of 70 km from the India-Nepal border and are too far to seriously impact the plains in Bihar. Politicians, engineers, and even the media finds it convenient to pass the blame on to Nepal for their own selfish reasons (Nepal had protested against this in 2004 and the then CM Rabri Devi had had to apologize).
A CPI (ML) team led by comrades Dhirendra Jha, Pankaj Singh and Nawal Kishore visited the flood-affected areas. They report that the floods have wreaked havoc on Purnea, Arariya, and Katihar. Hundreds of villages are cut off, relief operations are not to be seen anywhere, and relief materials are being appropriated instead of distributed. The failure of the administration is clearly exposed, especially in Balrampur, Barsoi, Kadwa, Hassanganj, Dandkhora and other areas in Katihar. If precautions had been taken, much of the destruction could have been avoided. The earlier flood report from Champaran sent by CPI (ML) leader Com. Virendra Prasad Gupta had also highlighted an extremely grave situation, particularly in the Narkatiyaganj sub-division.
Protests by CPI (ML) MLA’s in front of Vidhan Sabha
MLAs Com Mahboob Alam, Satyadev Ram and Sudama Prasad protested in front of the Vidhan Sabha with placards on 22 August 2017 for the following demands: declare the floods a national disaster; 2 quintals of paddy and Rs 20,000 relief for all flood-affected victims; Rs 10 lakhs for families of the dead; 1 lakh compensation for each house destroyed and in need of rebuilding. The MLAs said that it is a matter of shame that instead of carrying out relief operations on a war footing, the government is asking for Adhaar cards and other pre-conditions for victims to get relief. They said that neither the Central government nor the State government is interested in finding a permanent solution to the destructive floods which occur every year. Earlier protests had also been held in front of the Darbhanga District Collectorate to demand relief for flood victims, arrangements for boats in submerged villages, compensation for submerged crops, transparency in dam repair funds accounts, and other demands.
On 18 August (the second day of the protests) hundreds of flood victims blocked the road at Laheriyaserai Tower and burnt CM Nitish Kumar’s effigy when no administrative official came for talks in response to the ‘Dera Dalo Ghera Dalo’ protest. The protesters gave the government an ultimatum of 48 hours to start distribution of relief materials.
On 19 August NH-57 was blocked for 4 hours by people from Bahadurpur Block villages Simra, Nehalpur, Maniyari, and Mabbi-Shahbazpur (Sadar Block). The protesters demanded arrangement for boats in the affected areas and distribution of relief materials like polythene sheets, food, medicines and doctors. The road block was ended when the Sadar BDO announced that relief materials would be distributed.
The CPI (ML) Bihar State Committee is conducting flood relief fund collection and sending money and provisions to the flood-affected areas.