The Nitish Kumar government in Bihar on Saturday termed as "historic" a recent order of Patna High Court wherein it saw the promise of an end to the problem of recurring floods in parts of the state bordering Nepal.
Sanjay Kumar Jha, the state's minister for water resources and information and public relations department, came out with an ebullient statement hailing the February 04 order which has called for the constitution of a Kosi Development Authority, named after the river, originating in the neighbouring country.
The Kosi river has earned the sobriquet "sorrow of Bihar". The order was passed by a bench headed by the then Chief Justice Sanjay Karol, who has since moved to the Supreme Court.
Jha, a close aide of the Bihar chief minister, said the authority thus formed would consist of representatives of the state government, the Centre and Nepal with the mandate "to address the vexed issue (of floods in the area) in a time-bound manner". He said the problem "has lingered on for seven decades, ravaging lives and putting an enormous strain on the state's exchequer".
He pointed out that as early as in the 1950s, a need was felt for "a high dam at the Indo-Nepal border" but the matter kept hanging fire for want of "political will" and, partly, because of diplomatic wrangles.
"The high court order has laid down a concrete framework for all stakeholders - the Bihar government, the Centre, the Nepal government and other agencies which need to work together to put an end to the problem of floods," said the Bihar minister.
He also said that the court has, in its order, stressed the need for "factoring in continued loss of state's resources and work out a funding formula. As regards the funding, the Centre has suggested 60:30:10 viz., 60 per cent central grant, 30 per cent central loan and 10 per cent state share.....the Court has directed that this formula may be finalised with the central government so that future activities may be streamlined".
"The court has further directed that after the funding issue is resolved, steps may be taken for the inter-linking of Kosi and Mechi rivers in a time-bound manner...Once this happens, we can hope that devastations of the scale of Kosi floods of 2005 that claimed hundreds of lives, become a thing of the past and people of the Kosi belt can live without fear", Jha added.