Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Update: 28 Jan 2009

It must be one of the better news that all people & organization connected in flood relief have heard lately.

The Kosi is back on course, back where it belonged.

This news comes because of the untiring hard work of engineers from Govt.of Bihar, from Vashistha construction, from other agencies who were working on this 24x7

The people of Nepal & Bihar, who worked (laborers,contractors,engineers & all others) under tough weather conditions for close to 9 weeks have made it possible.

The repair work was very tough, and after the partial collapse of coffer dam 3 earlier this month, things looked a bit uncertain.

The whole team has done well to bring Kosi back & that is really good work; Now, they have to make sure that the breach is totally repaired and that vigil is maintained all through the embankments & dredging & maintenance is undertaken regularly.

We are at Dighi Panchayat, near Biharigunj.

We have been distributing warm clothes & blankets in Koriapatti & Bhawartola villages. The people from Bhawaertola will be coming to dighi to get the blankets tomorrow afternoon.

We cannot do distribution of blankets inside these villages as they are still not reachable by 4 wheeler, & also because crowds swell to unmanageable size during distribution.

We have given woolen shawl, children clothes earlier today( 60 families) when we were there to distribute the coupons for blanket distribution.

Water level went down by about a feet yesterday & we hope to get a clear traversable road to this cluster of villages shortly.

We will be here till 31st Jan i.e Saraswati Puja.

We have got some educative kits for small children which we shall be distributing on 30/31st Jan.

By Chandan.
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Wednesday, January 14, 2009

They need help. Sustained help

The good news last week was that the the third & the last coffer dam was completed, and it was a big relief as that meant that work could be started on retracing the mainstream Kosi flow to its original path.

That didn't last long as a portion of the newly constructed coffer dam # 3 collapsed the next day due to excessive water pressure around it.

Three coffer dams had been constructed to change the river flow towards the pilot channel.Discharge of water went up &  as more n more water gushed out, pushing the water level up..people got scared. Many thought its the flood all over again.

Thankfully, kosi discharge during this period is low & steps are being taken to rectify the damage.

This incident reinforces the fact that a lot of work has to done within the next 70- 80 days, and that pushing things in the wake of meeting deadlines can backfire & do more damage than good.

Its a very difficult task that engineers out there are undertaking, and we hope that Nepal Govt & Indian govt. provides all possible help to ensure that the breach repair is completed before end of March 2009.

During the last week, we have distributed blankets,dresses for children & clothing sets to 600 odd families residing in really difficult areas. Lots more is needed out here..its cold, wet & windy.

We went to Bhavara tola village in Gwalpada which is still cut off; After  initial help by the govt. earlier last month, not much has been done. We will be going there again and give relief materials to 200 odd families residing there.

The damage to these villages is immense. In the picture you can see a hand punp which is about 7-8 feet above the ground level. This hand pump was on ground level before the strong currents of Kosi eroded everything around, leaving a 8-10 feet deep channel right through the village.

As this is the only source of potable water, the ingenious inhabitants have made a bamboo platform/ bridge to reach the hand pump.

Blankets are lifeline; they get soggy by dew at night ..and are dried in the daytime. If the sun fails to show up..they sleep with soggy blankets. It will be tragic if it rains, all they will have is wet blanket to keep them warm.

Many of these huts are on the canal where the residents of neighbouring village have taken shelter.They are raised to keep then safe from a surge in water level, It also saves them from insects and reptiles & provides some warmth compared to cold wet soil n sand of the canal.
Only way you can reach here crossing the first breach by boat or wading through the water and walking two-three hours. Along the way, we found solitary dwellings made from washed away bamboo, branches of fallen trees & leaves. They survive on next to nothing nothing..and fight this unforgiving cold by sheer will power.
I shudder to think what will happen to them if it rains or if there is rise of even a feet of water.

This is all that they have, handful of rice & a hole in the ground to burn twigs & leafs ..but they hang on.. hope to live on..what else can they do. Its very difficult to reach no one comes here..& they cant go out. They survive on some rice & wild pods/ saag (cooked leaves of wild plants)

There is pain & suffering everywhere you look; almost everyone has lost something or someone.

They need help. Sustained help.

+91 9931763070

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Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Relief materials from Sri Uma Shankar Pandey

We have received six cartons of old clothes for flood relief distribution , sent by Sri.Uma Shankar Pandey, Hella India lighting Ltd (IAM), Udyog Vihar Phase 5, Gurgaon, Haryana -16

Thanks a lot Uma Shanker Ji; it gives us great hope and happiness to see that people are still sending relief to the flood victims even after four months of the disaster.

Thanks a lot on behalf of the whole team.

God bless you.

Thanks & regards.,

+91 99317 63070

Panchayat bhavan, though washed away partially, is still functional and that has been a big help to the locals.

This is the bridge that connects this panchayat to the main road. One can cross it by foot or cautiously by mobike. Four wheelers are a taboo. It creaks when you cross it, its unnerving. Its crazy.. the guy in the middle can sink in any time. The locals, though, have got used to
these minor irritations as compared to the disheartening loss of property and life around here.

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Kolhaypatti Dumaria Panchayat

Kolhaya patti Panchayat is near Dighi panchayat where the last blanket distribution had been done. Distribution of blankets in Kolhayapatti panchayat was undertaken day before yesterday. 260 blankets were given to people who could not be given the same during our last trip here.

Coupons are personally distributed to households which are in extremely bad condition. This is done by team members who go to the affected villages in advance. They are given blankets /warm clothing when they come to camp & the coupon is retrieved with a thumb impression or signature of the beneficiary.
This village is in shambles; stagnant water, broken bridges & roads.. deep erosion of fertile farmlands... the damage is unbelievable.

This was a plain farm area; Kosi flowed right through this village, under scouring &destroying many buildings. These villages look like a war zone.

Updates from Gwalpada

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Tuesday, January 6, 2009

First relief consignment 2009.

Its been some time since I was last here; and the news is that the ground situation is more or less the same as it was last week of last year.

The good news though, is that the Bihar Govt. has restarted its relief package all over again, i.e, it is providing relief money and food for the second time to the flood victims all over again. It is also providing blankets and warm clothing. Good or bad press, I feel this gesture by the govt. is appriciable.

Those of us who have worked out here, or are working here..know what a logistical nightmare it is to even reach the victims, leave alone carrying the relief material & undertaking the distribution. Weather, infrastructure,extreme reactions from distraught flood victims ..these are some of the factors that make these efforts even more difficult.

We still hear of areas not yet touched, of miseries faced by a large helpless population.. and sadly that will stay more or less the same. But we can take heart because the weather will improve, the Govt aid will become more accessible and HOPEFULLY the Kusaha breach will be plugged before more damage can be done.

Our CM, Mr.Nitish Kumar is supposed to be at Kusaha on 9th Jan, I hope he makes sure that Kosi is redirected to the old path before it starts to swell again. If he can do that, the gratitude of millions affected directly or indirectly in this flood will tide him over any political tsunamis he may face for a long long time.

Inside the kosi belt, deep inside the labyrinth of broken roads and dis shelved villages; at places where people dont know for sure whether Bihar is a district, a state or a country; where life starts and sets with the Sun...people believe that their "Sarkar'" , their "Raja" will come & save them from Kosi's fury. With lump in my throat, I hope that their belief is true.These are simple folks with pure soul and a good heart. How long can God defy them.

Back on terra firma, we have received about 840 new blankets and old woolen clothes & we start distribution from today. There is no wrap up date for us..we are still working & will keep on doing so till we run out of relief materials.

We will start with Koriapatti (East) Panchayat(Trivenigunj prakhand) tomorrow & move up towards Birpur & Chatapur. Our base will be at Dighi Panchayat.

Serena, thanks for the tarpaulin sheets you sent earlier.. one sheet is giving shelter to about 10 people in this cold damp foggy weather.

Thanks a lot for your good wishes & prayers, they have helped us immensely to tide over difficult  periods of  flood relief work.

Best wishes for a fruitful year ahead.

God bless you all.

ps; For self help groups in and around Trivenigunj,Pratapgunj & Birpur; if you need moderate quantity of clothing for men ,womem & children, kindly sms/call us on 0612 6450916 & leave a message. We have some stock of clean, matched & packed sets of clothing of different sizes.

+91 9931763070

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