Left to right: After being forced out of her home by flood, a flood victim awaits for relief along with her infant; some flood victims rescue goats in a boat; and a flood victim salvages belongings from her submerged house in Saptari on Tuesday. Photo: Jitendra Kumar Jha/Republica
SAPTARI, Aug 29: Floods wreaked havoc in some villages of Saptari district affecting over 500 families. Floods entered in settlements of Hanumannagar Kankalini Municipality and Tilathi Koiladi Rural Municipality and forced many residents out of their houses. According to the Hanumannagar Area Police Office, floods had submerged over 500 houses by Monday midnight.
Even until late afternoon on Tuesday, the water level had not receded. According to Rajesh Jha, coordinator of Tilathi Koiladi Rural Municipality’s Disaster Management Program, around 150 houses in their rural municipality and over 350 houses in Kankalini Municipality are inundated by the floods.
“The houses have been submerged in five to seven feet of water. People are not in a condition to stay in their houses. They have taken shelter in safer zones,” Jha informed. “The situation is getting worse as the water level has not show any sign of receding,” he added.
A joint team of Nepal Army, Nepal Police and Armed Police Force carried out rescue operations in the flood affected areas. People are safe but are in poor health conditions, informed DSP Bhavesh Rimal of Nepal Police to Republica. “Even though floods entered the settlements at night, there were no human causalities. Victims have been taken to safer area, their condition is good but we need to ensure that relief supplies reach them,” he said.
Rescue personals informed that the floods have fully damaged around two dozen houses while partially damaging dozen others. Meanwhile, flood victims lamented that they lost their crops and other valuable belongings to the floods. As water entered at night, they were not able to salvage any of their belongings from their homes.
“We could not salvage even a bowl of grain from our house. All our clothes, documents, and other belongings have been claimed by the flood. Even now, there is no way for us to go in our house and salvage our belongings,” lamented Rita Devi Ray. “We have become homeless,” she added.
Another flood victim, Shiva Chandra Mukhiya shared the story of how he was able to save his cattle on Tuesday morning. “When the floods entered our house with huge force, I had barely any time to save myself and family. We fled our house taking nothing and leaving our cattle behind. But in morning today, I went in and rescued my cattle. They are safe now,” he said.
Most of the residents in the flood-affected region are from the marginalized communities and economically poor. Most of them are daily wage earners. According to Mukhiya, the local administration has not taken account of the poor people even 18 hours after the disaster struck them.
“This settlement is mostly inhabited by people who are financially poor. As such, our children are crying out of hunger. We don’t have any food to offer them. We were not able to carry anything from our home yesterday night when we fled our houses. The government has not provided us anything yet,” he said.
Southern embankments in dilapidated conditions
The embankment in the southern side of Koshi River has been in a dilapidated condition since the last decade. Flow of the river has turned to the same side ‘due to the intervention by the Indian authority’. Blaming the Indian authority, locals state that though Indian officials directed the flow of the river towards the south side, but never cared about strengthening the embankments. People are also equally disheartened with the Nepal government for not being able to take stand on the issue and hold discussion with the Indian authority for correcting it. Monday’s flood has badly affected the entire region and half a dozen of villages are further at risk of floods.
“The Indian authority did not give attention to the damaged embankments. It has done nothing to repair the fragile, dilapidated embankments on the southern side of the river when they diverted the river flow towards it. Regular monitoring and repairing of the embankment must have been a priority for the authorities concerned, but sadly it has not been the case,” said Fajil Miya, a flood victim. “It is getting very riskier on our side,” he lamented.
“It has been so many years; they have not even seen how fragile the embankments have become over the time. Floods have been damaging it every year, but there have been no repairs so far,” Miya reported.
Floods have affected villages in the southern zone - Bhardaha, Bairawa, Badgaama and Pathari villages – almost every year still authorities have not taken measures to avert it.