Bihar Issues High Alert on Kosi River after Nepal Landslide

Bihar government today issued a high alert cautioning several northern districts about imminent floods due to drastic rise in water level of Kosi after landslides blocked the course of the main river in Nepal.

The alert has been sounded after the massive landslide over Bhote Kosi last night, which is one of the major tributaries of the Kosi River in Nepal, Water Resources Minister Vijay Kumar Chaudhary told PTI.

"The landslide in the upper reaches of Bhote Kosi, around 100 kilometres beyond Kathmandu, has blocked the main course of the entire river. Water is fast accumulating there forming a massive water body. According to our information the Nepal Army is preparing to blast the blockage."

Chaudhary said a huge volume of water will be unleashed after the blast and an abrupt rise in the water level of Kosi is expected.

"We do not know the exact volume of water and are trying to estimate it. But a huge quantity of water is sure to be released after the blast. It may also spill beyond the Kosi and its embankments causing floods," added the minister.

The state government is keeping its fingers crossed that a repeat of the Kosi disaster 2008 does not happen.

A breach in Kosi embankment at Kushaha in Nepal on August 18, 2008 had resulted in one of the most disastrous floods in Bihar.The river changed its course, killing hundreds of people and displacing around 30 lakh. The incident also brought wide scale destruction of agriculture over 8 lakh acres of land.

The Water Resources Department (WRD) called an emergency meeting today to discuss the situation that has built up due to the landslide over Bhote Kosi. It also discussed increasing water retaining capacity at Birpur barrage over Kosi on Indo-Nepal border through sluice gate operations.

All WRD officials have been called on duty. The department is also keeping a watch on the Varah Kshetra area of Nepal where Bhote Kosi joins the Kosi River. Normal water flow takes five to six hours to reach Birpur from there. 

Meanwhile, the Disaster Management Department (DMD) of the state government has ordered evacuation of people living in the area between the Kosi and its embankments in several north Bihar districts.

DMD Special Secretary Anirudh Kumar said, "Lakhs of people live in villages situated within the embankments of Kosi in Supaul, Saharsa, Madhepura and Purnia districts. We have directed the district administration to get it evacuated so that the people do not get trapped when the river level registers a sharp increase."

Five teams of National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) and three teams of State Disaster Response Force (SDRF) have also been dispatched to Supaul, Saharasa and Madhepura districts to tackle any emergency.

Emerging story. Watch this space for updates as more details come in
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