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.

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