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) www.mindteck.com 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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