The unabated increase in coronavirus cases coupled with the overflowing rivers in the state has wreaked havoc upon the people of Bihar.
Floods are not a new phenomenon in Bihar. Though people are reeling under the floods they are determined in their fight against both corona and the deluge.
Of the 38 districts in Bihar, Patna, Bhagalpur, Begusarai, Muzaffarpur, Nalanda and Siwan have seen the havoc of coronavirus while in Madhepura, Gopalganj, West Champaran, Darbhanga, Khagaria, Sitamarhi and Muzaffarpur districts the rivers in spate have destroyed people’s homes and livelihood.
The people of Benipur village in Muzaffarpur have taken shelter near the embankment, deserting their homes owing to the floods in the Bagmati river. They are not worried about getting food nor do they fear getting infected by corona.
An elderly man Awadhesh Singh, who lives in a hut near the embankment, stares helplessly in the overcast sky expecting the worst. Asked why he did not cover his mouth with a mask, he said, “What will corona do to us? We die every year. Corona is only for this year, it will be gone in a few days, but what about the floods? The rain above, the river down, everything has been submerged.”
Katgharwa village in Sadar block of Gopalangaj is submerged, and people are being evacuated and housed in a relief camp at the government school in Mungraha. Though the government has promised relief to the people, anxiety is writ large on their faces.
Neeraj, who lives in a relief camp, says, “COVID may afford us some time but floods destroy instantly so we are all geared up to protect ourselves from the floods.”
In Gopalganj, many villages of Sadar and Manjagarh blocks are submerged. Temporary houses and huts have been damaged and people are taking shelter on the roofs of pucca houses.
Disaster Management Department additional secretary Ramchandra Doo said the department is on alert in view of the increased water level in various rivers of Bihar. Five blocks in Sitamarhi, Darbhanga and Supaul districts, three blocks in Shivhar district, four blocks in Kishanganj and Gopalganj, three blocks in Muzaffarpur and East Champaran have been affected by the floods.
The increased water level of the rivers has affected 156 panchayats across 32 blocks in 8 districts of Bihar, where relief camps have been set up. Two relief camps are being run in Supaul and three in Gopalganj.
He said 29 community kitchens have been set up in the flood-affected areas of the state, feeding nearly 28,000 people every day.