Saturday, December 26, 2009

Kosi revisited

A lone tree still stands amidst stark sand filled surroundings which were once lush green farmland. This is one of the few landmarks that survived the deluge.

Kosi revisited: Gwalpada is a small town 15 km's south from Madhepura. This region was ravaged by a fierce flood in 2008 & the inhabitants of this region are still facing the hardships caused by the flood and its aftermath. Worst affected are those who live in the interior areas & do not have good connectivity with bigger towns of this area.

Bhanwar tola or Bhanwar pokhar is such a village. Located 15 km inside of the Gwalpada town, it is still cut out from the main road as bridges on either side of approach road had been washed away in floods & not yet been repaired.

We visited this area earlier this week & distributed Blankets & warm clothes to these people who have been living on the embankment for a long time now. The ward member of this area had been in regular touch with us after the floods & as promised to him earlier this year, we distributed the blankets there as soon as we received them.

Staying overnight at Madhepura, we left for Gwalpada early morning, around 3.00Am. We had to reach them before daybreak to avoid being stopped at other villages in the route as we were carrying blankets. We drove in almost total darkness because of heavy fog with visibility down to 5 meters at times on the broken embankment approach road. It was a difficult ride, but we managed to reach Bhanwar tola before daybreak


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Blanket distribution ~Kosi flood victims

We reached the Bhanwartola around 5am & were received by the village ward member who then guided us to this settlement.

The only source of warmth for these people are blankets & small bonfire from dry vegetation. They don't have permanent shelter & live under rough thatched shelters & plastic  sheet covers.
Its kind of difficult when all the people around coverage on the vehicle to get blankets, but after the initial rush things settle down and distribution is done according to the list of beneficiaries handed over to us by the ward member.

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Blanket distribution

It was heartening to see that the blankets & warm clothes for women & children which we had distributed last year had given them some warmth. Although many of these clothes were in tatters, it had helped them see through last winter. In fact the only warm clothes they have were the ones given by us last year. No one from any other relief agency have been here.
It gives a bit of satisfaction to see & hear that our small but continued effort has helped these very poor people, isolated deep inside the Kosi devastation area

Its the children out here who break your heart. Barefoot, with just a pair of shorts or shirt, they prance around excited,inquisitive and smiling, always. Many of them have suffered a lot, infected with diereses, weak from malnutrition & confused about their future. Despite all this, their cute little faces beam up every time you talk to them. Its amazing, how tough they have become in at small age. Its humbling.

Residents of Bhanwartola,Madhepura,

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Sunday, August 30, 2009

Flood update: Bharathua embankment, Aurai, Muzaffarpur

Dear friends,

Given below in brief are the flood relief work undertaken near Bharathua, in Aurai block , Muzaffarpur.

1. Muzaffarpur

Location - Bharathua embankment, 40 Km from Muzaffarpur on Sitamadhi highway.

Panchayat: Benipur

Relief for people living on Bagmati embankment near villages Bharathua, Benipur & Shankarpur

This embankment was breached earlier this month & thousands of people took refuge here. Many are still living on the embankment in very testing conditions, & are living in shelters made by flimsy polythene sheet.They need food, potable water & medicines,along with day to day requirements like soap, disinfectant,kerosene lanterns et al

Sushma Ji of Tejasaswi Sewa Sansthan, Sonepur has been working with these people shortly after the inundation.

Tejasawi Sewa Sansthan (TSS) had written to Ashok requesting help & we were able to communicate & coordinate help for the same earlier this week.

We had met Sushma Ji & members of TSS at their Sonepur office on 25th of this month & delivered the relief material listed below

  • Silverex (Silver Sulfadiazine) antimicrobial creme ( Rexin pharma,24gm Rs 58) -24 pc
  • Biodryl cough medication(children) 80 bottles
  • Paracetimol tablets (Calpol) 550 ( 55 strips)
  • Reduced osmolarity ORS sachets (Biotral) 400
  • Water purification tablets (blister pack) 75 mg stabilized tablets -1,10,000 tabs
  • Clothes : Children, women,men( used clothes) 12 cartons

Today early morning, we picked Shusma Ji & her colleague from Sonepur and reached the distribution site by 9 am. After walking for 3-4 KM , the materials were brought to the embankment. TSS had earlier made a list of beneficiaries from those taking shelter on the embankment & distribution was done accordingly. As we also had to go to Madhubani ( Benibad) for flood relief, we were carrying clothes & medicines for the same. However, as we saw that it would not be possible to cover even one section of beneficiaries with the material that TSS had, we gave them the clothes we were carrying for Benibad ( 5 cartons)

A lot more has to be done in that area & we will try our best to help them with what we have. Sushma Ji & her team are committed and hardworking & are undertaking relief work in Aurai block. Whenever we can, we will try to help them with relief materials, transportation & distribution. . Today Srikant ji was with them & helped them with what he could.

We will be working with TSS for Aurai region in the coming days.

Am attaching some pictures of same.

best regards,


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flood update: Kusheshwarsthan, 40 Km from Darbhanga

Dear friends,

Given below in brief are the flood relief work undertaken near Kusheshwarsthan.

1. Darbhanga.

Location - Kusheshwarsthan, 40 Km from Darbhanga

Panchayat: Madhar-lakshya gram

Villages covered: Mahdar mushari, Mahdidih Mushari, Nadiami Mushari,

Panchayat : Aurahi

Villages covered: Batauaa Mushari, Missi Mushahri, Bramhapur Mushari

All these villages fall under mahadalit (mushar samudaya)

The distribution of relief material in this area was carried out by "Gyan Sewa Bharati Sansthan"(GSBS) located at lehariasarai, Darbhanga

GSBS was in touch with Ashok and the request was forwarded to us during the first week of August.

Relief material in the form of clothes & medicines were sent to them on 11th Aug'2009 :The details being,

10 cartons of clothes for children, women & men ; each carton on an approximation contained 60-100 cloth sets.

One carton of Electral ORS sachets.

These materials were sent by Bus to Darbhanga with two member from our team, Srikant Ji & Rajesh.

They met Mr.S.N Jha, Mr Bhupendra, Mr Lalit Jha and along with them left for Biraul by train, once there, they traveled by 'Trekker', rickshaw & boat to reach the identified villages by evening.

They came back to Darbhanga by night & Mr. Jha assured of distribution of the materials to the above mentioned villages within the next few days.

Srikant Ji stayed overnight at Darbhanga & after meeting Mr Jha & receiving a list of medicines needed there came back to Patna.

I have been in touch with Mr Jha regarding the distribution & follow up of the condition there & had requested him to send the photographs of the distribution & details of the materials distributed by mail.

I have not received any mail from Mr Jha till now, & after inquiring about the same, I was assured that the mails & photographs have been sent to Ashok about a week back.

If Ashok has any such mail, I would request him to forward it to me.

We were supposed to leave today for a 4 day camp at Kusheshwarsthan but have postponed it as I have not had any communication with GSBS on the proposed day of distribution & Srikant ji was informed about distribution of first lot of medicine & clothes by people of that area. We are awaiting details regarding proposed distribution for second lot of relief materials

Total expenses for this 3 day trip was around Rs.4000, details of which are available on expenses spreadsheet of this blog.

The medicines sent consisted mainly of Electral Sacahets ( 1000 pc large sachet ,Electral W.H.O formula based) & some B-complex capsule strips.

Mr jha has gone to his village, & I will be going to Kusheshwarsthan in a few days when Mr Jha will be back at his office Srikant Ji too has gone back today.

Our relief effort will continue as it has been for the last month or so.

Thanks for all your help.

Best regards,


Note: [Ashok's Response]: Till now I have not received any update from Mr Jha. However here is a mail from
Ms. Sushama Singh Ji.
Respected Sir
We extend hearty thanks to you and your esteem team for providing support for the flood victims. Today we have distributed clothes and medicines among the flood victims in Orai block of Muzaffarpur district. Chandan Jee has sent one person to share his hands in distribution of clothes and medicines- His name is Mr. Shree Kant Singh from Patna.We request you to provide more clothes and medicines, so that we could able to cover more people. Some of the clothes were very worse, the people are not accepting it, so we request you to kindly give us good clothes. We need more medicines also.
Awaiting your response Sir
With regards
Ms. Sushama Singh

flood relief 2009


Today we came back from madhubani where we were stuck up for 2 days.. the highway was under water, we wre in bagha block.
The situation is so different..there are no indicators either in media or in peripheral neighborhood about whats happening inside the flood prone areas. Highway frm madhubani to benibad is flooded. we came back via madhepura.

Went to sonepur & gave the relief materials to Tehjashwai Sewa Sansthan. They will be going to aurai to distribute the materials on sun.

We will be picking them up from Sonepur tomorrow morning & going with them for distribution at Aurai.

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Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Sand & Summer at Kosi

The people in Kosi region had witnessed and endured the flood, its aftermath, chilling & damp winter & now scorching sun.

Till about a month back, many families still had hope that things would be normal soon, and courageously hung on with hope & desperation.

Hope has evaporated into the scorching heat & now they are desperate to get away from this Kosi region, their home-their hope.

There was a long queue at Saharsa railway station. It was more than half a kilometer long when we were there last week.

Hundreds & hundreds of people, mostly young or fit enough to travel, mainly men, were waiting for their turn to buy the ticket that is their only hope of surviving or helping their family survive.

They are waiting to buy ticket for travelling to Punjab on Jan shakti Express. This train runs up to Jalandher. Almost everyone is going there.

We had not seen anything like this, except during the initial phase of flood in August- sep 2008 when a lot of people had migrated out in search of livelihood.

Why now? Especially, after they endured harsh conditions in hellish conditions through these last 7 months.

The answer can be seen at the places where the Kosi flowed during the flood last year.

At places where there were lush green fields last year, now there is only sand. Only Sand.

For miles around, there is nothing but sand, loads of it.. dancing in the hot, dry summer winds.

Right from Birpur Basantpur region, east of Birpur court colony, the landscape changes drastically. Here, near Birpur one can see a thin river flowing down’s the Kosi river flowing on its old route..

Travelling to Parmanandpur, Mohanpur, Balbhadrapur, Bisanpur..etc, you cannot ignore the over whelming presence of sand on fringes of horizon.

As you cross the embankment and get in the old (flood ) area, all you see is an ocean of sand, and as we found out later, it is very important to follow some path or have a knowledgeable local person with you, it is easy to get lost..there was no landmark to orient ourselves about one Km downstream.

There is no mode of transport, you have to drag a cycle, mo bikes can’t go in the sand fields; only way of carrying supplies is to physically carry them.

Most of the farmlands down from Birpur towards south & east are in the same condition. This trend decreases as you move further down towards Kumarkhund.

One very obvious problem is identifying the farm borders as there is nothing left to relate its position. In many places, landlords cannot say where their farm starts or ends.

These fields are rendered useless for a minimum of 5-6 years; some farmers say that even if they stay back, what they will do here...There is absolutely nothing that can get them restarted.

The bridge on Bhavanipur - Balua route had collapsed during the flood, and a “Pipa pul” had been constructed there…this saved a lot of trouble getting to Birpur.

Unfortunately, even the Pipa Pul collapsed last week. We were stranded for a long time..& after

We came to know about the cause, we came to Saharsa & took the train t0 Patna. It was here that we witnessed so many people going to Punjab.

We were able to deliver books, clothes & medicines to volunteers, but could not deliver all the materials after our vehicle got stranded near Bishnupur due to collapsed bridge.

It evoked mixed feelings while crossing places where we had been during the flood, amidst a sea of water; now, the same places reveal the scars & sand kosi left behind. It’s difficult to compare which condition was worse, flooded by water or flooded by sand.
..and now-

Having written all these not so positive observations, some slightly better informations;

there are always people who give you hope & encouragement by their selfless & sustained work.

One of them is Ms Shyamala Rao, from Maanav Utkarsh Samiti, Maharastra. She has been working here all through these seven months. Earlier placed at Bhagalpur, they are now working from Forbasegunj.

They are running Adultl iteracy classes, and are about to finish training 60 women for agarbatti manufacturing.This is the first batch.

They need help in form of medicines, clothes, books & other such material needed for community developement, livelyhood training, child & women health and adult literacy.

The contact details are:

1st floor,
Opp.Kosi gramin bank,
Manikchand road,

The ph no is; +919471676979

Shyamala Rao,
Maanav Utkarsh Samiti

Another group who have been working here all through till now is AMURT.

Acharya Kisan Sood is working in Bihar flood relief, & amongst the various works undertaken by them was the cremation of dead bodies & animal carcases.

They are presently running schools & child health centers at;

Bali Village of Shrinagar Panchayat in Gerada Block of Madhepura dist

Phulkaha village in Madhepura dist. This is a old primary school with 70 children. Its hostel has 11 children.

Primary school has been started with 79 children since 26th Jan. '09 in Sakrecha Panchayat of Punpun block

School is being planned in Madhepura town. & Supaul's Pratapganj block from July'09

Children home for girls is running here in Patna in Mainpura & home for boys at Patna is planned to be started by July '09 .

Email; (Ac. Kishan Sood)

A lot of people wanted to sponser child education, they can contact Acharya Ji or contact me for any details regarding these two agencies.

Thanks & regards,


Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Infrastructure after the flood

Damage to infrastructure is telling & widespread. These pictures are from our
February trip to Chatapur,Maheshkut,Baluaghat & beyond.

This is what a wayward body of water can do to masonry & RCC structures,what chances
of survival would a simple village dwelling have against this onslaught.

People related the thundering sounds they heard, and how everything shook violently
all evening and then the water came, it looked like simmering silvery sea of water,
and when it hit the villages, people dint know what to do.  It was terrifying and
disorienting..they dint know which direction to go. Everything was going wrong..
most of the villagers found safety atop few brick mortar houses with rcc roof.

In fact those few cement houses that almost all villages have was the Noah's Arc
that saved a lot of people, specially women and children.

They hung in there till relief boats came; SSB, ITBP,Navy...they braved immense
danger and rescued those who were stranded.

They are all brave hearts.. those who rescued them & those who were rescued.
© chandan  Koshi-4

© chandan  Koshi-4

© chandan  Koshi-4
© chandan  Koshi-4
© chandan  Koshi-4
© chandan  Koshi-4

The base of this hand pump or "chapa-kal" is above 8 feet over the existing water
body. Before the floods ripped through this village, it would have been barely a
feet above the ground, and this was a field. Now, its a stagnant body of water.

Six months after the flood, Kosi is still haunting these areas. These people need
lot of help...and although the Bihar Government/NGO's are working hard to help &
restore normality out in this region, the spread and the intensity of destruction
is just overwhelming.

We are still hanging around, doing what we can,with what we have. We are also trying to work out how best we can help some children get sustained quality primary education.


Thursday, February 19, 2009

Relief distribution at Rani patti

We were able to distribute around 210 woolen blankets at Ranipatti, Raghunathpur panchayat ( Murligunj) on 12-15 Feb 2008. Earlier last week we (Feb-2-4) we had distributed some blankets here along with areas near Bhawartola. We also distributed clothes, new & old to people in these areas.

raniptiiRSZ (6).JPG

Many of these places in Singhwara, Bhawner tola or Ranipatti cant still be reached by boat or vehicle; we used to go there & distribute coupons for blankets & clothes depending on how much stock we had.

It was difficult not to be able to distribute materials to all people in the village, so we try to find the weakest & most deprived people and gave them coupons. It feels horrible doing so.. all the people are more or less in the same boat & need the relief blankets & clothes.

After so much time out here, you can almost make out the condition of the village before you enter can sense the gloom before you enter a badly suffered village.

Inside, everyone wants some relief. There is no pandemonium, though; they understand that all of them will not get relief material this time and line up accordingly.

Its remarkable.

These people have lived together amidst sorrow & pain for so long, cut away from the world, its almost like they all think the same communal thinking .There is also lot unstated mutual understanding and admiration for one another for having made it through.

A day after coupon distribution, the come to the nearest point where we can bring our vehicle ; and the relief is distributed to the coupon holders. At places where its very difficult for people to come out of the villages, we try & distribute relief materials in the villages.

At places, to reach a badly hit village, we have to go through other villages which were not so badly damaged, or have had already received relief from other agencies. It is difficult not to give any relief material to them & go to villages ahead to distribute the same, in such cases, we generally use the coupon for distribution.

Village Ratanpatti,Raghunathpur Panchayat, Murligunj, Feb 14- 15 2009.