Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Update from Pratapgunj & Chatapur

We are now moving up to Pratapgunj, we haven't decided the route to be taken ( via Purnea or via Nepal) as we are waiting for confirmation from 9 volunteers who have gone in.This area (Pratapgunj & Chatapur) is the worst affected flood area.
There has been significant improvement in these areas as they are right in the middle of Kosi flow, nearest to Kusaha breach. The water current is still very bad and the villages which suffered the largest causality are in these two blocks.We have been asked to bring 15 life jackets for the volunteers and medicines for flood victims who are still trapped in there.We will be carrying the blankets,shawls and some medicines; but we do not know how we will go inside in the core area. No boats can go in because of very high current, & roads have been swept clean. But, as nine AMURT volunteers have already made it inside and connected with some villages there.. we are going in too, come what may.PFB the list of medicines, if someone can help us with these.. it would be a big help.

As of now, I still keep blankets & woolens as the most important relief materials, so we cannot fund these medicines from what we have.But if someone approaches us or wants to chip in, they can help in purchase of these medicines. These can be sent directly to us or to AMURT office. They can also be sent directly to Pratapgunj camp. I can provide addresses & phone no's should someone need them.
The details of the medicine required for use in Pratapganj and Chatapur blocks. We need both for people & domestic cattle.

All opathic medicines needed are: ORS Sachet
Cifron CT tab.
Ornof O tab.
Metron tab. 400mg
Roxid (150mg) & 50mg
Perinorm tab & syrup
Deriphyllin Amp
Effcorlin (100mg) vial
Crocin tab 500mg, 250mg
Tminic syrup
Polybion syrup
Combiflam tab, syrup
Ofas syrup, tab
Ofal M syrup
Taxim 'o' tab & syrup
Ordem tab & syrup
Neosporin Powder
Bactroban ointment
Surfaz ointment
Clop GM ointment
Omez cap 20mg
Pantop 40mg tab
Corex 'D' syrup
Grillinctus syrup
Phenyl bottles
Sinarest tab, syrup
Cetriz 10mg tab, syrup
Norflox Tz tab
Benocide forte
Hetrazan tab
Tab. Chloroquinine
Tab. Ranitidine
Tab. Omexozole
For the domesticated animals the medicines needed are
1. Two types of vaccines - HS & BQ
2. Deworming medicine - Albenzazole bolus 3gm, 1.5gm, 500mg
3. Fungal infection - betadine liquid & Lorexen cream
4. Terramycine Bolus 500mg

Thanks & regards,

PS: Anubha Ji, I could not collect woolen clothes from your place y'day. I will get it collected today. Thank you all for putting in so much time, effort and money for flood relief.

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Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Boats are the lifeline

This bridge connects Madhepura to Kumarkhand. During flood, spans of bridge just sank down, totally cutting off areas east of Madhepura. Another bridge, called loha pool was also damaged, but has been repaired by the Army. Although this reduces boat ride by 5-6 Km, one still has to use boats twice before one reaches to Ranigunj.

The country boats are fitted with a 5 kva diesel engine(generally used for water pumps) which drives the propellor. The boat ride is scary..they are overloaded and carry everything from cows to bikes. You have to stand up like in bus or metro. Difference is there is nothing to hold onto execpt thin air. No wonder many mishaps and fatalities are reported.
Our relief material(blankets,woolens,cerelac,biscuits,medecines,clothes) get across the river in three trips.
And engine breaking down is common..good thing is that these sailors are always able to repair them.

All the woolen clothes,caps & scarves were bought by donations by Ms Anubha Prasad (Del) & Kumar Gautam(USA)

210 woolen blankets were bought by funds given byMr. Prashant Pandey (Pune)

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The bridge on river Kosi

The bridges on old Kosi route hung on as the river wreaked havoc around them. But the new course that Kosi took really did serious damage. We have not yet bridged the gaping holes kosi eroded on National highways, state highways,bridges and culverts..almost every thing that came in its way.

To cross Kosi, one either had to cross it at Kosi barrage in Nepal, or way down near Naugachia where the river met Ganges.
Boats were & still are the only conveyance inside the labyrinth of broken roads and washed away bridges. They carry everything, man, animal, motorbikes and the flood relief materials. These boatmen are very skilled,
and very informative. If you want info about any area in and around Kosi, their network can pinpoint the location.They also tell you what happened, whats happening and whats gonna happen if this speed of "reconstruction" is continued. They are big source of information around these areas and if you chat them up, you will realize that they are smart & very intelligent.
Hauling relief materials from Balua dhar embankment to Kumarkhand block.
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We distributed 320 blankets in Murligunj & Kumarkhand prakhand. The distribution was carried out till late evening & started again early next morning.
We give coupons to the beneficiaries who fill in their details & give it back it when they get the blanket. The list of beneficiaries comes from common names mentioned in lists of names provided by Sarpanch, Aanganwadi workers and AMURT volunteers. This way we give our limited supplies to the ones who need it most. Elderly women and men first, then other beneficiaries on the list.
Orderly distribution is always a challenge. People keep on coming, and relief materials ultimately run out.Sometimes there is anguish, sometimes anger. We have had our experiences from two bad days at Darfga bandh relief in Trivenigunj. Now, we have a better mechanism for distribution and a team of volunteers, sarpanch & AMURT volunteers(whenever possible) works together.
Blankets & woolen clothes were distributed to beneficiaries from Jorgavn,Parwa,Rampur,Ranipatti (Murligunj) and Rahta (Kumarkhand)
Acharya jee, along with Amarnath Ji helped us distribute around 32o blankets in these areas.

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Our camp site for the night, these two gentlemen were awake almost all night. Food was provided courtesy Amarnath Ji. You know, despite all the problems most of the people out there are carrying on life as normal. They were never tired, never hinted any frustration when we had goofed up the loading of materials at Baluadhar & as a consiquence had to go thrice cross the river.
Its a different life altogether, they survive on each others strengths, share each other sorrow and work as a team. The children get so happy with so little and they genuinely seemed happy.
I hope and pray that God help them go through this winter, and that their miseries end soon.

Amarnath Ji had tough time with ladies who woudnt budge and kept crowding on him.

This old lady walked from ward 4, about 4-5 km away, to come and collect blanket and cap
for her family members who were apparently not well. She is so frail.. and yet .. amazing people these. Beautiful people. Warm people. Friendly people.

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These children were waiting for us very eagerly as someone had told them that we are bringing biscuits. We reached late & we were not carrying biscuits as blankets had taken all space.
Felt real bad.
We gave them soft colorful woolen caps, slacks and sweaters. To make sure that some children do not comeback and Que up again, we marked a cross with red marker on their palm.

All the children got woolen caps; infants and really small children were given woolen top,slacks,socks & cap,
The condition in these villages are very bad. What you see below is a hand pump, with thick crust of decomposed vegetation and algae over 6-8 inch water.
The villages are saturated with stale water, almost all hand pumps are around 30-40 feet deep.
Many of these hand pumps would be contaminated.
But they are the only source of water, as wells are totally polluted and all lakes or pokhars are in bad shape.
Although this small woven bamboo bridge looks frail, they are pretty strong, these 'chachri' are used in many places where the river is still flowing through.

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These are the scenes of villages where people have come back to from relief camps. Broken houses,decay,insects,dirty water..all things bad. Nothing left in their dwelling,
The government has given them one quintal food grains(rice & wheat) and INR 2250 for families which have a student (INR 1200 for education)

Distributing woolen caps to children

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Ranigunj, Kumarkhand

The concrete slab of the roof dangles down, held by some reinforcement bars. This house
probably gave refuge to hundreds of people before the high current of Kosi eroded its foundation and hollowed up the underlay.

A lot of small breaches on the highway has been temporarily repaired now as most of the roads are visible and are above water level. But still, road connectivity in this area is only about 50 %.

I hope authorities do something about the way these boats ply.These boats have been a lifeline all throughout these 3 months. Overcrowding and ignoring govt.guidelines for safety has led to a lot of accidents.

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Bihar Flood relief contribution from Mindteck

Dear all,

We are pleased to inform that Mindteck (India) along with their employees has come forward to help the people affected by Bihar flood.Mindteck India's employees have contributed Rs. 41,101 (forty one thousand one hundred one rupees) and same ammount has been contributed by the management of Mindteck India. Total ammount conributed by them is Rs. 82,202 (Eighty two thousand two hundred two ruppes). We have received two cheques on the name of Prayass. Prayaas is our NGO partner through which we are continuing the flood relief activity in Bihar along with Chandan at Patna. This is a great gesture from employees and management of Mindteck India. We thank them on behalf of people of Bihar. This is really a great help towards the rehabilation of people affected by Kosi Flood.
We keep updating the flood relief activity at our blog
PS: Amar Jamadhiar, one of our group moderator works for Mindteck and he was very instrumental in collecting this fund.
I have attached a photo which was sent by Mindteck's HR while handing over cheque to me.

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Thursday, November 13, 2008

Day 86

One thing that almost everyone (who hav worked out here for flood relief) would have witnessed is the humility, courage & benignity of the flood victims. These are remarkable social qualities, and they are consistent & unfaltering even in the midst of daunting conditions which has prevailed here for almost three months now.

Even a small insignificant help is greeted by a warm smile and genuine gratitude. If we have nothing to offer or we have exhausted our supplies..the disappointment is never overtly made obvious or rude; just a smile, a nod or sometimes a slightly sarcastic take on their own luck.

They just want to go on with life, and hope that things get better. Resigned to fate maybe, but most of them have accepted this and they blame no one for this.

When you sit to talk with them, they narrate their flood stories with acuity, slowly a crowd starts to gather around, they open up & then everyone has something to say.

Out of nowhere someone brings you tea, they talk about the problems they have and how they deal with it , about other victims in difficult to reach villages, about politicians and NGO's who have helped them,

And about the bleak future that awaits them.

When we ask them about their requirements, its always the women who are encouraged to speak first; the men are just happy with what they have. The men are more practical in their demands; medicines for cattle,anti fungal crème (for ringworm or "dinai"), torch.. stuff like that.

When we tell them we have jeans pants for them..they blush.. they actually blush like children & generally nominate the oldest person around for jeans outfit. Women, with pallu of sari generally tucked between their teeth giggle and nudge each other. They have fun.

When we gave them woolen clothes for small children, they were very happy. Just a small woolen cap or a scarf per family, and they are happy.

Then we asked them whether they needed blankets. They were silent, all of them.

Maybe they dint believe that they can actually get blankets. It's almost a luxury to even think about that.

Well, we have procured 240 blankets today and it's going to them. It feels good.

It will be slightly difficult to take around 500 blankets and distribute them; it will take at least two trips on the boat. We have talked to Sarpanch, Amarnath Ji, he has been helping us a lot in the areas within Murligunj thana, Jorgama & Kumarkhand. We will be staying in Rahata overnight and hope to do the distribution in two days.

We would to thank Mr.Prashant Pandey, who took the initiative, asked us what we needed and committed funds for 200 blankets. Lot of thanks to Anubha Prasad & Kumar Gautam for helping us buy woolen clothes for children and to Dr. Arvind.G , (3rd stage,6th main, Gokulam, Mysore) & his colleagues for sending us six cartons of clothes and medicines.

God bless you all.

Thanks & regards



Tuesday, November 11, 2008



A fleeting moment of anxiety, perhaps hope; amidst a lifetime of poverty,fear & despondency.                                                                                                                    

I truly hoped that I will be able to give you some good news on flood relief , but not yet... a lot has to be done, specially as villages which were cut off till now have become accessible.

We are working in two areas, both on the same route; Rahata which is 20 KM away from Parwa embankment ( Madhepura) and Harijan tola, which is 10 KM from Rahata.

Since the last report, ITBP personnel have left the area as water level has receded and now one can reach Rahata by road . Although, its still difficult to take a four wheeler there , but carts and bikes can traverse up to Rahata.

We have distributed around 2500 cleaned & packed clothes, 80 KG biscuits, 1200 packets of cerelac,
Medicines, lactogen, chlorine tablets,soluble iodine ointments and 300 woolen caps in this panchayat.
The distribution is being helped by the Sarpanch of the village and that has made relief distribution easy and effective in this area.

We are taking clothes, woolen caps, blankets, cerelac & food grains tomorrow to be distributed at Harijan tola, which is 10 KM from Rahata, but still surrounded by water. The boat has to be changed at two places, and one has to cover around 5 km on foot to reach there. We are assured of help from Rahata sarpanch in form of boat and people to carry the materials' to Harijan tola.

We will be moving to Pratapgunj from there on Wednesday, carrying medicine & biscuits to villages which have been connected somehow by AMURT volunteers.

As the water level is receding, more and more villages are getting connected ; hence people who were taking shelter in relief camps are going back to villages. Occupancy in mega camps is slowly getting down, and in some cases, its only the most poor ,the unfortunate ones who are at these shelters. They have no place to go and nothing as their own.

These flood victims, who have lost everything ( of whatever little they had) are totally dependent on relief camps to survive. They are in shelters provided by our government, fed by our government, medically helped by our government….they are the poorest of the poor; they cant protest, they dont have the energy or will to oppose or choose an alternative shelter.. and they cant keep changing places from one camp to another,they are just too weak for that.

The flood relief administrators had made a commitment to run these camps till the conditions become normal,and I hope they will be doing that, come what may.

There is no clarity on the number of camps closed till date;and people fear that some more camps will be shut down . The apparent reason is that camp occupancy has become less and the people who are in the camp are very few.

Initially these mega camps were occupied by large number of people who were evacuated during the flood.As water started receding, people who could afford boat fare or who had relatives come down to take them back.. started going back to villages by boats, more followed later when water receded fully. In a way, people who could afford physical movement or fiscal incentives to get back to their villages have gone back.Its only the weak, poor and sick victims who cant make it back to their villages, or who don't have a address now in the camps.

There is no doubt about the magnitude and spread of this disaster..and any government would struggle to keep up with increasing demands; but after about three months into relief work, one would expect a more professional and focused effort from the agencies.

The other concern is regarding the status of repair at Kusaha.

It is imperative that the breach be plugged before snow starts melting in Himalayas and Kosi discharge picks up. It is a daunting task..but it has to be done.

If, for some reason, the repair work is not complete before Kosi discharge increases… it will be really bad. All the work that's being done now for rehab and reconstruction of the area will be washed away. The impact on population residing inside Kosi will be disastrous.

We hope that mother nature does not play any more tricks, and that the critical repair work is carried out within the specified time.

Anubha Ji & Kumar Gautam; Thanks so much for sending in funds, We procured woolens from 35K you sent us. A part of it is distributed in Ramganj & Rahata panchayat (Kumarkhund).
We would need more woolens & medecines .

The cattle in these areas are in very bad shape; we have been providing vaccines & deworming medicines to for them from our limited funds,..but they need much more than that. If any of you know of people/organizations who want to provide medicines/ vetenary help for these areas, please share their contact.


We would like to thank Mr. Manoj for joining our flood relief work at ground zero level. Thanks a lot Manoj Bhai...

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Saturday, November 1, 2008


Yesterday, woolen & regular clothes, medicines, water purification tablets,
veterinary vaccines (HS & BQ) & medicines and packaged food were sent to Jadia & Lakshminia
panchayat in Murligunj.

We have procured woolen caps,woolen mufflers and ear corers for 1500 children, apart fromlots of woolen clothes collected at Patna & from the clothes sent to us from our donors. The ground situation out here was difficult for about 10 days due to statewide agitations in retaliation for some unwanted political brinkmanship

Hopefully, good sense prevails and things become normal soon.
Thanks a lot to Anubha Ji who has funded the purchase of woolen clothes for small children; most of these clothes will be sent to Raahata and harijan tola in kumarkhand.

We plan to provide woolen clothes for small children to all the infants & small children up to 8-10 years of age to all the 2300 families who are residing at Harijan tola- Rahata cluster of villages.

Motor boat service had been disrupted for some time and we hope that they start soon. At places, one has to carry relief material for up to 10 km. Local villagers and paid porters are helping us.. but its taking more time.

We had a tough time coming back from Nepal after roads In Bihar were blocked due to agitation. But that gave us a chance to spend time near Nepal border (Inarwa) and we saw the Himalayan mountain range early morning. It was one beautiful experience...we were about 150KM south of Himalayan range and quite surprised that we could see the mountain range.

It was white capped horizon much above the cloud line...and it turned to orange glow just before sunrise.
Sometimes I wonder at this irony...beautiful, pure sky almost angelic the start of the day....and pain, suffering and choked feelings at sundown. Heaven and hell in span of a day..same place..same people..but so much change.

I would like to thank all of you for sustained help for such a long period, its amazing how humanity transcends time and tribe. Heartfelt thanks to the wonderful people of Maharastra, who have helped us right through this effort. Your help has been exemplary. God bless you all.

I hope and pray that in these trying times, people who celebrate 'Chath' festival are allowed to do so, where ever they are India.

Preparations are on for 'Chath' festival in and around the troubled waters of Kosi, and for a change, things look festive and positive... that feels great.

Would also like to thank AMURT volunteers who have been helping us in really difficult terrain and conditions.

In the last week, we have received -

*Babyfood & Cloriwat tablets from Sri. Raj Sachdev, Geekay Enterprises, Mumbai.

*INR 25000 from Anubha Ji, Delhi, for purchase of woolen clothes for children.

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