PATNA, BIHAR: Nitish Kumar said he feels like “crying” over the condition of the River Ganga, which has affected 22 lakh people in Bihar, and killed 22 in the last three days.
The Chief Minister of Bihar said that his state has received 14% less rain than is standard for the monsoon; the devastation, he said, is man-made.
Bihar is taking a beating partly because of the water pouring into it from upstream states like Jharkhand and Madhya Pradesh as also Nepal. More than half of its 39 districts are flooded this year.
For the first time, areas like Bhojpur, Vaishali, and Patna are flooded. The overwhelming problem, for this round of flooding the Chief Minister pointed out to the PM, is the Farraka barrage or dam, which is located in Bengal. Chief Minister Nitish Kumar met PM Modi in Delhi today to discuss Bihar floods.
“The main reason for the floods in (the) Ganga is the excessive deposit of silt in the river due to the construction of the Farakka barrage,” Mr Kumar told the PM. “We need to re-evaluate the need of the barrage.”
The Chief Minister and his team of experts say the Farraka Barrage has led to silt or sediment piling up all the way roughly 400 km to Patna, forcing the river bed much higher, making it much easier for the water to spill over.
In the natural course of the river, if the barrage were removed, the silt would flow into the Bay of Bengal through Bangladesh, which is also a stake holder in the barrage, built in 1975 to Kolkata port on the River Hoogly. The barrage diverts water from the Ganga to the Hoogly, facilitating the removal of sediment naturally, which means the port does not have to be dredged.
The Prime Minister has committed to urgently sending a team of experts to handle desilting in and around Patna.